Deal signs transit bill into law

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"Marta Train" by hyku is licensed under CC BY

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed the long-awaited transit bill, legislation that creates the state-level Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, known as the ATL, which provides a new structure for coordinated transit planning and funding for the 13-county metro Atlanta region.

The ATL will be responsible for developing a Regional Transit Plan, as well as identifying and prioritizing the projects and initiatives required to develop regionwide transit. Deal also allotted $100 million in 10-year General Obligation bonds in the FY 2019 budget to fund public transit.

“It is projected that the metro Atlanta area will add another 2.5 million residents by 2040, and HB 930 recognizes this growth and provides a coordinated, streamlined and unified approach to prepare for the future of metro Atlanta and the surrounding communities. With the establishment of the ATL, we are taking another significant step to ensure that our modes of transit and mobility are worthy of the No. 1 state for business and the best place for opportunity.”

Gov. Nathan Deal

HB 930 also outlines funding for public transit for approval by the ATL through a T-SPLOST of up to 1 percent for up to 30 years, which counties may apply if they so choose. The 13-county region under the ATL includes Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale counties.

The ATL will be attached to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority for shared administrative resources and will be governed by a 16-member board. 10 of these members will represent 10 new, specially created Transit Districts and will be chosen by a combination of county commission chairs and a caucus of local legislative delegations.

One mayor, to be selected by a caucus of mayors from the cities located within each district, will also sit on the board. The board’s chair will be appointed by the governor and the vice-chair will be selected annually by a vote of the board members. Two board members will be appointed by the speaker of the House and two board members will be appointed by the lieutenant governor. The commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Transportation will sit on the board as an ex officio, nonvoting member. GRTA and State Road and Tollway Authority Executive Director Christopher Tomlinson will serve as the ATL’s interim director.

“This legislation provides the framework for the region to come together to provide our citizens the opportunity to cross jurisdictional lines in seamless, efficient, clean and most of all safe method when riding transit.”

State Sen. Brandon Beach