Sen. Chance backs regional transit ‘oversight’ council
With $3.6 billion in transit money off the table with the failed regional T-SPLOST, state government officials will now turn their eyes toward legislation that would create a regional transit agency for metro Atlanta.
While Fayette County has no transit operations here, there are concerns the county could perhaps be lumped into a regional transit agency, and possibly on the hook for partially funding such an endeavor.
On the horizon are two pieces of legislation, one from the Georgia Senate that creates an oversight agency and the other in the House of Representatives which would create a full-fledged regional transit operator.
Senate Bill 474, sponsored by Republicans including Ronnie Chance of Tyrone, would require the county commission chairman — and one Fayette mayor chosen by a caucus of all Fayette mayors — to serve on a Transit Governance Council.
SB 474 does not speak to funding of transit operations in metro Atlanta, but instead requires the TGC to provide oversight over transit operations in all 10 metro Atlanta counties, which includes Fayette County. The legislation tasks the TGC with developing a long-term capital strategy for public transit in the metro area and for planning efficiency and coordination efforts between public transit agencies in the metro area.
The TGC would be under the umbrella of the already-existing Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.
Different legislation in House Bill 1200, sponsored by House Democrats from the Atlanta area, would create a Metro Transit Authority, but no Fayette representative would be required since the county does not support any transit operations.
Unlike the proposed TGC in the Senate legislation, the MTA proposed by HB 1200 would be able to operate and maintain transit equipment and facilities and thus be its own standalone transit agency operating in the 10-county metro area, but limited to funding projects that are approved on regional transportation improvement programs, which are under the purview of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Also unlike the TGC proposal, the MTA would be empowered to raise funds through revenue bonds.
Fayette County commissioners are reviewing the proposals so they can provide input to the legislature through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, its statewide lobbying group.