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

No public transit without a public vote

A bill that passed Tuesday in the state House and now goes to the Governor for signature would require voter approval before counties can build any new “fixed guideway transit,” such as the $500 million bus rapid transit system proposed by Cobb County Commissioner Tim Lee.

Senate Bill 420 specifically exempts transit projects undertaken by MARTA in its existing service areas of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties, as well as the Beltline and Atlanta Streetcar. But it would apply to counties like Cobb and Gwinnett that might consider adding their own rail or bus rapid transit service one day. Sen. Lindsey Tippens, a Republican from west Cobb County, introduced the local legislation.

"I really think if you put in place a transit system that will require massive investment voters need to approve it," said Tippins. "If taxpayers have to pay, they ought to have a say."

The measure requires that the ballot question specify what kind of transit service the county would build and where, as well as the cost for construction, operations and maintenance and the date that construction costs would be paid in full.

Tippens has said that the legislation was inspired by his concerns over Lee's attempts to push through a bus rapid transit system along Cobb Parkway.

READ MORE: Bill would require public vote for bus rapid transit in Cobb

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