Your Voice Matters: Atlanta's Decision on MARTA & T-SPLOST

On Monday, June 6, the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) hosted Your Voice Matters: Atlanta’s Decision on MARTA & T-SPLOST.  MARTA and the City of Atlanta are building a list of initiatives to positively affect transit in Atlanta, but in order to do so, community support is imperative. For this reason, CCI opened its doors to the community to learn from, interact with, and pose questions to officials from MARTA, the City of Atlanta, and the Beltline in an interactive forum.

With over 100 people attending, CCI was packed with students, activists, city officials, nonprofit staff, journalists, and concerned community members. Rohit Malhotra, Founder and Executive Director of CCI, led the group in brief presentations of potential project options from city officials, including Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Robbie Ashe, Chair of the Board of MARTA, Paul Morris, President and CEO of the Atlanta Beltline, and Ben Limmer, a staff member in MARTA’s policy department. With a mix of native Atlantans and newer transplants in the room, audience questions focused on themes of accountability, equity, and transparency, both for the planning process and project completion, if the TSPLOST referenda do pass in November.

Ben Limmer of MARTA reminded the audience that these two ballot questions only address transportation expansion in the City of Atlanta. This means that these two referenda are not designed to impact transportation outside of city limits or change existing services (although funds raised through these TSPLOST taxes could be used to supplement existing services). The City of Atlanta has released an extensive project list. It is soliciting public feedback on this list until June 20 when Atlanta City Council will vote to solidify their official project list. Some of the proposed projects include expanding the streetcar along the Beltline route and extending heavy rail access across the city.

After an open question and answer session with officials from the City, MARTA, and the Beltline, attendees were split into small groups to discuss and brainstorm their dream visions for the best and worst possible outcomes for the proposed TSPLOST tax. Community members mentioned their apprehension of a plan that would leave Atlanta’s transportation system less interconnected, with services and schedules that are inaccessible to communities that need them most or a lack of regional cooperation to improve our city’s transit. Attendees dream of a transportation system that is responsive to the community, delivers high-quality services to all of Atlanta’s neighborhoods at a reasonable price, and operates in a transparent, accountable way.

Whether you were in the room or not, there are many ways to get involved and weigh in on the future of transportation in Atlanta.

  • The event was videoed by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. You can watch the whole thing here. 
  • Learn more about potential projects. The City’s website has a lot of information, and a community-developed website, MARTA Menulets you envision the various options on an interactive map.

  • Give your public officials your feedback on these options. Here is how to contact Atlanta City Council.

  • Make sure you’re registered to vote! Here you can make sure you’re registered, help a friend register, and check your polling place and sample ballot questions.

  • Read Creative Loafing’s coverage of the city-hosted input meetings.