Half of all regional tax goes to rail and buses


When we arrived for duty in Korea, several wives advised Joye to make sure the kids brought their bikes inside whenever they weren’t using them.

“Is crime that bad?” she asked.

“No, you’re going to be safe,“ they replied, “but there’s still a culture with some of the people that if you don’t secure your stuff, it’s up for grabs because you don’t value it as much as they do.”

That sums up the view that the Regional Transportation Roundtable (RTR) Executive Board and a flock of special interests have of your money. They want it, and they’ll “get all the bicycles” for the next ten years if we’re too complacent to inform ourselves, contact our elected officials, and vote.

What’s going on?

Per Georgia law, the RTR Executive Board refined a list of transportation projects for the full 21-member RTR’s Oct. 15 approval. You will fund the projects over a decade with one more cent of sales tax (you pay 6¢ in Fayette County already) every time you make a purchase in the 10-county metro Atlanta. And the 10 years is renewable by legislative and voter referendum.

Some of the projects are certainly worthwhile to enhance safety and mobility, but the Executive Board has allocated 49 percent of the estimated revenue to government-operated bus and rail proposals.

I cannot find a reference in the U.S. or Georgia Constitutions that assigns government the role of providing public bus and rail transit. Getting to and from work, shopping, going to a ball game, and other personal mobility needs in a market economy (which we are less of every year) fall to the individual. When a need arises for services that people cannot meet themselves (some people, of course, do not, or cannot, drive, bike, walk, or carpool), markets arise for entrepreneurs to fulfill.

Beyond that fundamental consideration is the matter of costs and benefits. The Ga. Department of Transportation’s 2010 Atlanta Regional Commuter Survey reports that only 2 percent of commuters use buses and 3 percent ride the train, 8 percent telecommute, walk or bike, and the remaining 87 percent rely on our highways.

But as things stand now, we’re being set up to spend the same amount of our 10-year $6.2 billion sales tax revenue for 5 percent of regional commuters as we are for the 87 percent of highway users. Yep, you read that correctly. Government at its finest; even Washington could learn from this one.

Now let’s return to the beginning: who wants the resources more, you, or the special interests?

If you find spending half the money for 5 percent of users as absurd as I do, contact our two RTR representatives to urge their opposition to diverting family budgets to government-operated, under-serving, and incredibly expensive transit. Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele and Fayette County Commission Chairman Herb Frady represent you on the RTR.

I’d encourage you to contact all 21 members, but only if you want to keep your bicycles!

Email addresses for all RTR members are posted here: http://fayettecountyissuesteaparty.org/RTR_members.html.

Robert J. Ross

Peachtree City, Ga.