- Tyler Estep The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Nearly all of the Gwinnett County residents that participated in a new survey from the Atlanta Regional Commission said improving public transit is vital for the future — and more than half said they’d be willing to pay more taxes to make that improvement a reality.
The ARC released Friday the results of its annual “Metro Atlanta Speaks” public opinion survey, which asks residents from 13 metro counties about a variety of topics. Of the 400 Gwinnett County residents surveyed by landline or cellphone, about 96 percent said improved public transportation was either “very important” or “somewhat important.”
While only 45 percent of Gwinnettians said expanded public transit would be “the best long-term solution” to Atlanta’s traffic problems, more than 56 percent said they were “willing to pay more in taxes to fund expanded regional public transit that includes buses and rail.”
The results of the ARC’s survey come as Gwinnett County is wrapping up its own comprehensive transportation plan and pushing forward on a separate study focused specifically on transit.
Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash wants the county to have some a referendum on transit expansion of some kind in 2018. Both studies will help shape that potential vote.
Like the ARC’s study, early surveys from Gwinnett’s transit development plan suggested the county may be willing to pay more in taxes to fund new transit options. About 65 percent of the 3,674 residents surveyed by the county said they would “strongly support” or “somewhat support” a new sales tax to fund transit expansion.
Nash has said any expanded transit would likely have to be paid for through a sales tax. Gwinnett voters have regularly approved penny sales taxes for local transportation projects in recent years, but have historically had less of an appetite for increased property taxes.
Gwinnett County Transit currently consists of six local bus routes that run almost exclusively on the western end of the county, as well as five express routes to locations inside I-285. It serves about 5,000 people a day.
Gwinnett’s Department of Transportation and consultants Kimley-Horn hope to present recommendations based on the transit study sometime in the first quarter of 2018.