Historic Day for Transit Funding in Georgia
Friday, March 19th, 2021
The Georgia Legislature today took the historic step of establishing a mechanism to annually fund capital transit projects that support economic development priorities throughout the state. The Georgia Senate unanimously passed HB 511, which establishes nine Trust Funds to ensure that fees collected for a stated purpose are spent on that purpose. This includes the Georgia Transit Trust Fund, which will hold the $.50/ride fees on for-hire-ground-transportation established by HB 105 last year for the Governor and Legislature to appropriate to capital transit projects.
“I would like to commend the bipartisan leadership of House Speaker David Ralston and Dean Calvin Smyre, who have been working on state funding for transit projects for years,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “I also want to applaud Governor Kemp for including the Transit Trust Fund in the overall bill to codify the Truth in Trust Funds Constitutional Amendment that Georgia voters overwhelmingly supported in November. We are grateful for the Senate’s leadership unanimously approving this bipartisan measure today.”
MARTA Board Chair Rita Scott added, “The Georgia Senate also has the opportunity to join the Governor and the House and support the line-item $6 million for-hire-ground-transportation dollars to make infrastructure improvements necessary to support Microsoft’s investment in Georgia, as well as $1 million for a new bus maintenance facility needed to support growth in the Athens-Clarke County transit system.”
As Georgia continues to be among the best states in which to do business, for-hire-ground-transportation fees afford Georgia yet another recruitment tool to align local and state financial resources to best promote the state for economic development purposes.
The Microsoft Campus investment is an example of how the state and transit authorities can partner to make Georgia more attractive to companies seeking to make major investments here. Transit was listed as a key consideration for Microsoft in choosing to invest in Georgia.
In working with Microsoft, MARTA has identified $50 million in infrastructure improvements to the Bankhead rail station including increased capacity and access, and potential transit-oriented development.