Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stand with the Transit Equity Coalition, and help us demand a fair MARTA Expan

MARTA is finally expanding. But for the most part, efforts at collecting public input through the More MARTA program have been relatively low-key – it’s safe to say that the majority of Atlantans have no idea that this initiative is underway. Which means that right now it is unlikely that the final expansion plan will reflect the true wants and needs of Atlanta’s commuters.

In 2016, Atlanta voters approved a half-cent sales tax to fund the expansion of MARTA. The tax is expected to generate $2.5 billion over 40 years. Since the tax was passed, MARTA has been fine-tuning a list of potential bus and rail projects to improve service in various parts of the city.

One of the projects that is garnering the most attention is the Clifton Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, a streetcar that will link Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Lindbergh Center Station in Buckhead. The issue with the emphasis on the Clifton Corridor Project is that Emory University and the CDC were annexed into the City of Atlanta in 2017 – after the sales tax was passed. It is unfair that this project, which will receive $500 million of the $2.5 billion in MARTA funds, is being prioritized over the communities in south and southwest Atlanta that have been asking for improved MARTA service for years.

According to the More MARTA program’s questionable survey results, two more proposed projects that are on track to become a reality soon involve building a light rail along segments of the Beltline. The Atlanta Beltline has become the city’s main driver of gentrification as it causes property values to skyrocket. Though the forces behind the Beltline initially promised that the project would lead to the development of 5,600 units of affordable housing, they are far behind where they should be. The More MARTA program’s prioritization of a Beltline streetcar over transit improvements in south Atlanta communities is a slap in the face to the neighborhoods that are bracing themselves for Beltline-generated displacement. The More MARTA program should not spend a single cent on the Beltline rail project until the Beltline fulfills its commitment to affordable housing.

The Transit Equity Coalition is an alliance of civil rights organizations, faith-based groups, and neighborhood associations who are working to hold MARTA accountable to the true needs of the community. Our members are:

American Friends Service Committee
Atlanta NAACP
Concerned Black Clergy
Dekalb NAACP
Housing Justice League
Our Truth, Our Power – The South Atlanta Listening Project
United Youth Adult Conference

We are asking everyone who supports MARTA equity to call their Atlanta city councilmember and demand that they put pressure on MARTA to:
  1. Cut the Clifton Corridor rail project
  2. Expand the west rail line from Hamilton E. Holmes station to Fulton Industrial, and the east rail line to Stonecrest along I-20.
  3. Refrain from funding a streetcar on the Beltline until the Beltline begins to live up to its affordable housing promises.

The Atlanta City Council can be reached at (404) 330-6030.

More information about the More MARTA project can be found here: https://itsmarta.com/moremarta.aspx
Like the Transit Equity Coalition on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MARTAequity/

Foluke Nunn
Youth Organizer

American Friends Service Committee