Public transportation vote is happening in my neck of the woods

File: MARTA/itsmarta.com
​When I first came to the Atlanta metro, I was impressed with the MARTA rail line. I came here for great opportunity from Ohio's North Coast. If one thought that the Atlanta metropolitan area didn’t have much in the way of public transportation, Cleveland at that time, had an old-style rapid rail system. I do hope Cleveland's RTA is far better these days, but at the time to me, Atlanta's MARTA was amazing.

When I first rode from the Chamblee station to the downtown Omni/Georgia World Congress Center station, I was amazed at the quality and speed of the trains. I know, the cynics reading this will scoff of course, but to me, MARTA was and is a decent system. I have taken the system many times over the years. Like many who take it, there have been plenty of hiccups, but any regular rider has experienced public transit technical difficulties. That comes with the territory, just like one’s own automobile, house or any other mechanical gadget(s). Safety is also an issue. With any system, safety always needs to be taken seriously. Any public transportation security members and riders alike always need to be aware of surroundings.

As a longtime Gwinnettian, I always felt fortunate enough to live eight miles to the nearest station, but I always wished that Gwinnett would have been a part of the MARTA system from its inception. While I was disappointed that Gwinnett turned down the offer to join the system last time, I’m excited to the offer back on the table after all these years.

Many times, over the years, I have been crestfallen by the lack of action to combat traffic in metro Atlanta’s surrounding communities. It always seemed to me that leaders, developers and the business communities only looked at the bottom line without thinking about how people could move around. I keep repeating that if Gwinnett was part of MARTA, we would have rails going out beyond Hamilton Mill and maybe even a line stretching out to Athens.

After years of success in the Atlanta metro, those very leaders have finally woken up to see just how abysmal traffic negatively impacted the entire region. Like it or not, Gwinnett is growing for the better. With that dynamic and diverse growth, the county is in dire need of transforming its transportation plans. One only needs to look at Pleasant Hill Road or Scenic Highway on any given day to show that something needs to be done. Only adding more roads and lanes is not the answer. Gwinnett needs an “all of the above approach” with maintaining current infrastructure, adding MARTA as a transportation option and investing in technologies, it could be a win-win for everyone in the county and metro region.

Now, I’m not bought off by those who have been investing their time and money into the pro-MARTA campaign. I’m writing for myself based on my own experiences. These are my musings and not much more. Of course, there are naysayers with any type of progress, but action needs to be taken to combat terrible traffic, pollution and road rage all the while making the county safe for pedestrians who use public transportation. I think that adding more bus routes in the immediate future while making plans for much-needed hubs, heavy rail and light rail are all excellent ideas. I have taken the Gwinnett buses and they’re great, but they don’t have enough routes. It's time to quickly expand on the bus system. Many of those skeptics cite that quality-of-life will be compromised with MARTA being in the county. Quality-of-life can be improved with enhanced mobility choices. This is a great time to vote Yes on MARTA. Voting day is Tuesday, March 19, but you can vote early at a satellite location. Check out this site for more information.​

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