Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Question For Chairman Ehrhart

Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Land of Nodding Know-nothingness) is piping up on Peach Pundit again, proudly bragging about the latest twist of the screws to MARTA.

I have a question for you Chair Ehrhart.

How do you justify spending my tax money laying down an infinite number of lanes on I-75 at Windy Hill, but spending Cobb Countian's tax money on a transit system that they use daily to commute, attend Falcons games, etc. etc. etc. is not justified?


Dave Bearse said...

It's simple Grift, why pay for what you can get for free, in this case seamless subsidized transfer to MARTA?

Anonymous said...


always an honor to be on your site.
I never talked about subsidization one way or the other with respect to MARTA. My problem is with the management and the board and I do have the ability to work to change that.
What I am not willing to do is give them more access to funds that can be spent on excess and not on actual transportation.

griftdrift said...

Rep. Ehrhart, welcome.

As I was just telling someone, we never agree but you are always willing to joust.

Let me ask you this. If there were a change in the structure of the MARTA board would you be willing to vote to appropriate state money to the transit system?

Do you not agree that it is fundamentally unfair for two counties to support a system that benefits a 10+ county region?

MTHEORY said...

Grift, I (think) see where you're going, but it's a dead-end in the case of Cobb County. The bulk of their transportation funding comes from a SPLOST they imposed on themselves via a referendum. We (I live in DeKalb, too) taxed ourselves for MARTA, Cobb did it for highways. I want to say Cobb's transportation spending is 60% funded by their SPLOST, though there is some federal and state money in there as well.
But Cobb doesn't charge you or me a toll to use their roads, and has the CCT bus service (that ties into MARTA at one of the downtown stations) that we can ride if we want to use public transportation to get to Marietta. In other words, their system benefits you and me just as much as our system benefits them.
Do I want the state to fund MARTA? Yes, but because it would be GOOD for metro Atlanta and the State to do so, and not because it's bad for DeKalb and Fulton that they don't. Both of those things are true, but only the former is a good reason.
Earl, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Grift always does!

griftdrift said...

I'd really like to be a smart aleck here but I'm going to try real hard to not be.

60% of the funding to widen I-75 is from SPLOST? I find that hard to believe. I'm sure secondary streets are largely funded by SPLOST (just like they are here in Dekalb by the way).

And MTHEORY, are you really going to try to convince me that the benefits Dekalb and Fulton residents receive from CCT are proportionate to the benefits Cobb residents receive from MARTA?

But we do agree on one thing. We need a regional solution. Unfortunately, there are certain counties (and their elected representatives) who have stood in the way of such a solution for decades.

Darn, I made it all the way to the end. Oh well, almost.

MTHEORY said...

Didn't mean to equate CCT w/MARTA. Obviously, MARTA is much bigger, w/more reach, more riders, etc. But you could (with some research) make the case that Cobb's "roads + CCT" value is somewhat proportionate to DeKalb's "roads + MARTA" value -but only if you take the two of them together. (And I mean the benefits to all Georgians, not just dollars spent.)
And I was incorrect about the SPLOST percentage. It's only 54% of Cobb's transportation spending -projected over 6 years.

PS: Do Clayton and Gwinnett still have reps on the MARTA board? There's a governance question for you.

Dave Bearse said...

"I never talked about subsidation...."

Natch, it would open the door to a charge of hypocrisy.

Where are the GOP complaints about the public transportation subsidies in the I-85 HOT (high occupancy toll) lane proposal (which I'm not all against despite what follows)? $50M of the $110M federal project will be used purchase buses for Gwinnett Countians with ZERO local match. MARTA at least ponies up 20% to 50% or more of its capital expenses.

As initially conceived, the project is contingent on evicting 2 person carpools from HOV lanes. The I-85 HOV lane is currently at capacity at peak periods, so it will be necessary to convert from 2+ to 3+ people per vehicle to quality as an HOV in order to carve out capacity to be sold to tollpayers.

The flip side is project's other $60M is effectively a subsidy to the tollpayers as the tolls aren't anticipated to cover capital costs.

What does the general motoring public get out of the project? 2 person carpools get shafted with tolls or forced out of the lane. Excluding the free buses, everyone else gets little or nothing as there will be little if any net gain in capacity / congestion relief.

What do the tollpayers get? A $60M subsidy because tolls won't recover the $60M spent to install equipment.