Ahead of Gwinnett County’s failed MARTA referendum on March 19, I wrote an op-ed arguing that tech hype was misleading suburban voters in the county that the private sector could deliver better solutions than public transit investment. The following piece first ran in Atlanta Magazine on March 14: https://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/commentary-only-transit-investment-not-tech-hype-can-solve-gwinnetts-transportation-woes/
Here’s an excerpt: “Engineers with little experience in transportation systems or network planning often come bearing promises of privately-financed silver bullets. They successfully woo millions of Americans eager for transformational transportation solutions without any support from taxpayers. I understand and appreciate that appeal, however, there are no silver bullets in transportation.”
Though the referendum failed, another could soon give the county a second chance to join the MARTA system with billions of dollars in new funding for significant expansion. Other referenda in Fulton and Cobb County appear likely over the next several years, and make no mistake, these same misleading tech-driven arguments against public investment in transit expansion will rear their heads again. It’s imperative that transit advocates educate themselves on the state and future of these technology “alternatives” so they can combat false promises. Otherwise, we’re likely to see anti-tax suburbanites continue to stymy much-needed changes to fight congestion and stimulate economic development in their own backyards.