Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Mass transit: Gwinnett County residents speak out


As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week, changing attitudes in the suburbs paved the way for transit legislation recently signed by Gov. Nathan Deal. That legislation, in turn, could fuel the biggest expansion of transit in metro Atlanta in a generation.

Nowhere are those changing attitudes more evident than in Gwinnett County, where voters could get a chance to join MARTA later this year. It’s a dramatic development in a county that traditionally has found MARTA to be a four-letter word

But not everyone in Gwinnett is ready to board MARTA. We recently solicited thoughts about transit from Gwinnett residents and received a variety of responses. A few of them are printed below. 

For context: Last fall an Atlanta Regional Commission survey found 56 percent of Gwinnett residents would be willing to pay higher taxes to pay for bus and rail transit. 

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I moved from downtown Atlanta to Loganville about 3 years ago when I got married. My husband already had a home in Loganville so it was easier to move in with him. This notwithstanding, I am literally itching to get out of Gwinnett and back to any metro area with mass transit. The quality of life is just not the same. We spend countless hours sitting on 78, 285 and 85 in order to get back and forth to work. By the time we make it home, we're exhausted and irritated. If Gwinnett doesn't pass a bill in the next six months or so, we will be moving. Buses won't cut it, because they can still be stuck in traffic on the freeway. There needs to be rail expansion, asap! 

LaDawna Barnes, Loganville 

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Sir, do like I have done. I have observed the buses for one week, except for the shuttles buses that pickup people Monday-Friday for work, the Gwinnett buses are almost totally empty. I want Gwinnett to provide TRUE/HONEST numbers on the ridership for the past four years. I can understand rail to the Mall of Georgia and other points of interest, but expanding the bus system for less than 10 percent of the population is a no vote from me. 

Sam Washington, Snellville 

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Gwinnett missed an opportunity nearly 30 years ago and continued on its vision to expand dumb growth. Like many areas throughout the Southeast, Gwinnett built highways with traffic lights thinking that those type of roads would move vehicles more rapidly than traditional main streets. The problem is that the county over-built on what was once farm lands with houses, strip malls, traditional malls, free-standing eateries and drug stores -- with little-to-no-code enforcement. 

The idea of doing heavy rail expansion today is too little too late. It's probably better to do a combination of light rail and expanded bus service. 

Robert Nebel, Peachtree Corners 

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A transit supporter, it is essential infrastructure for Gwinnett's future quality of life and economic well-being. The conversation in my mind needs to change - why make it a discussion and debate on choice or an either/or? It should be an "and" which strives to enjoin the diversity of views on community to maximize benefits for all residents and businesses in Gwinnett. 

Jay Bassett, Snellville 

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The current transportation system cannot get the basics done, I am unwilling to be taxed for something that may happen in 20 years. Go to the bus transportation center at Hamilton Mill, Sugarloaf, Indian trail. See a schedule? No! See a map of the routes? No! See a fee structure? No! See a clock, a way to contact the transport hub, any information at all? No! No! and No! If you cannot get the bare bones of customer service done I have serious doubts that things will improve in the future. 

Ken Higgs, Dacula 

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Expanded public transportation in Gwinnett is decades overdue. Traffic is already a nightmare and, as development continues, it will only get worse. I would love to have an alternative to sitting in my car in bumper to bumper traffic. 

I have traveled in Europe a good bit and their transit systems are superb. When I traveled in the Swiss Alps, I saw people using walkers at the top of the Alps. They used trains, trams and shuttles to get there. If you live in Gwinnett and are unable to drive, you must take a taxi or Uber everywhere or depend on the kindness of friends or relatives. Public transit would give independence to a lot of folks. 

Dianne Rose, Duluth 

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I love living in Gwinnett County and very much would like to stay here in the future. However, the lack of alternatives to long, traffic-filled commutes may very well mean I have no choice but to leave. 

For several years, I commuted from Peachtree Corners to Sugarloaf Mills. During Snow Jam 2014, I broke my right ankle and was restricted from driving. It was an incredible hardship, and I nearly ended up out of work, not because I couldn't do the work, but because I simply couldn't get there (especially given that GCT #10 only runs during business hours). 

It absolutely blew my mind that there were NO transit options to get between two of Gwinnett County's largest population centers. I ended up driving using my left foot, which was not exactly a safe alternative. My doctor was livid but when I asked him, "what choice do I have?" he had no answers. 

Catherine Collingwood, Peachtree Corners


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About the Author

David Wickert covers transportation issues for the Enterprise team. He joined the AJC in 2010 and has also covered local government in Gwinnett and Fulton counties.