Bills to create a Regional Transit Authority in Metro Atlanta have now both passed overwhelmingly out of their respective Chambers and were in transportation committee this week in the other Chamber for consideration.The expectation in committee is that both would substitute the other bill’s language for the original house or senate version, and then head to a conference committee for agreement. Both Bills are now in Rules Committee and are expected to be on each respective chamber floor for a vote this week, and head to conference committee for potential agreement.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. Brandon Beach (R-21) proposed SB 386.
- Creates the Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission. The purpose of this Commission would be to coordinate the funding and construction of transit facilities in the 13 county metro-Atlanta area.
- Creates an optional T-SPLOST that counties which are apart of the system may adopt through a referendum. The money would be used to fund public transit expansion within the local jurisdiction. The jurisdictions are encouraged to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with MARTA for their transportation services.
- Authorizes the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority to oversee the creation of the ATL board to develop, manage, and execute regional transit strategies throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area. The ATL Commission will consist of the Georgia Commissioner of Transportation, Mayor of Atlanta, Chief Executive Officer of MARTA, and County Commission Chairmen from each member-county.
- The House Transportation Committee passed Senate Bill 386, but stripped it of all language from the Senate Bill and substituted all of the language for House Bill 930.
Rep. Kevin Tanner, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced HB 930 as a result of the work of the House Regional Transit Funding and Governance Commission. The bill was amended to remove the special tax district for Cobb County and allow the entire county to have the option to join the new Regional Transit Authority if created.
- Restructures GRTA into the Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Commission incorporating the 13 counties in the ARC region in the new authority governed by newly created districts.
- Identifies two new funding revenues to support transit: (1.) Adds a 50-cent charge per trip on rideshare, taxi and limo providers (2.) Creates a 1% airport tax on concessions at the Atlanta airport.
- Allows new counties to call for a referendum to levy a 1% transit SPLOST.
- The Senate Transportation Committee passed HB 930 by substitute with language from SB 386 and is now in Senate Rules Committee.
Leadership in both Chambers agree that metro Atlanta needs well-networked, efficient transit and both are committed to passing framework legislation. What that final piece of legislation will look like remains to be seen. Rep. Tanner and Sen. Beach have both indicated that House and Senate are working together but differences remain. This is likely to not be decided until the last day of the session, Sine Die on March 29.