• Johns Creek and MARTA: The REAL Reason it is NOT the Right Answer

    By Staff
    January 18, 2016

    Recently, the City of Johns Creek passed a resolution effectively saying they would not support an increase in the MARTA sales tax, which is and has been collected in Johns Creek since MARTA was formed.

    That decision has led to the usual bellowing of racism. Racism is on the path to becoming the argument of first resort when people, generally on the left, do not get their way. It used to be the argument of last resort, but why wait?

    I am sure that there will be people that claim that my views are biased as well. They would be wrong.  I graduated from Georgia State University, and I took the train from Hightower to Georgia State daily. Even then, it took longer by train than by car. Which is generally true for a lot of MARTA versus car travel cases.

    For example, Windward Parkway in Alpharetta to the Atlanta Airport would take 42 minutes at 1:33 p.m. on 11/23/2015.  By bus/rail? One hour and 27 minutes(if you get there as soon as the bus arrives).  Click on this link, and it will show you current travel times by both modes.

    We are often told “Look at how successful the METRO is in Washington, D.C.”. Of course that system is successful. It was designed and built the proper way a transportation system should be built. MARTA took a different path. Well they basically took two paths: North-South and East-West. That’s their failure. That they have continued to this day without modifying that plan is why MARTA is not and cannot be the answer.

    Have a look at the two systems.  Here are the maps for each:

    Washington METRO Map

    Washington’s METRO has multiple 8 spokes to their transportation system.  Those 8 spokes three separate transportation circular routes that allow passengers to get to where they are going without the need for everyone to transfer at one primary station if they need to change directions while traveling.

    This system is a functional system, and provides for additional expansion because they can connect any two outer spokes, creating another circular path, when the demand is there.


    Atlanta’s MARTA system is shown here:

    As you can see, there is no connectivity between the two main spokes, except at Five Points.  There are no circular paths for patrons to take to get to their destination.

    This also creates another major problem.  If MARTA has a failure between Lindbergh and the Airport, or between Holmes and Indian Creek, it disrupts all traffic and buses muse be used.  The Washington METRO allows riders to pick another route if one of the stations happens to be on one of their circular sections of track.

    So if you want to know why MARTA is not the solution for Johns Creek, look no further than the maps above.  One day MARTA might be a good solution for some people.  But until MARTA actually expands to allow connectivity between the two main lines at a location other than Five Points, the appeal is limited.

    Had MARTA really wanted to get the ball rolling, there would be a line connecting the Dunwoody and Doraville stations.  They would have also built a line North along I 75 as far as they could in Fulton, and then connected that station to Dunwoody as well.

    Instead, what we are told is that by 2030 they were to have a station at Windward Parkway, extending the North Line.  As far as I know, that is they only direction they are expanding.  That plan was announced in 2000 or so.  This leave me wondering how that their vision over a thirty year time frame could be so limited.

    Johns Creek could have MARTA buses.  But who will ride them?  We already have both GRTA buses and a Gwinnett County bus that is operated by GRTA.  They run mostly empty all day long.

    The desire to have MARTA needs to be for more than a transport system to a ball game or to the airport.  It needs to be something that someone can use in place of owning a vehicle.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Unless you are willing to park or sell your vehicle, and use mass transit, for more than 50% of your trips, mass transit is not the answer that makes sense.

    Where we live, time has a premium value.  We drive our own vehicles because despite the traffic problems we have, it’s still faster than mass transit can be as it is configured today.  If you understand that, then you will understand why Johns Creek does not think MARTA is the answer for what ails us.  And it has nothing to do with race.

    Read more of Mr Moosa's thoughts here.

    Editor's Notes:

    MARTA's continued stance of using heavy rail is unacceptable. Heavy rail is for transporting heavy goods, such as box cars, oil drums, cargo, etc. Heavy rail requires infrastructure to support it, from bridges, and overpasses. It is more expensive to build, maintain and costlier to use as well as takes much more time to implement.

    Light rail, is cheaper, quick and more efficient for passenger transportation. The infrastructure required is lighter, therefore less costly to build the bridges and overpasses.

    Johns Creek or even North Fulton has no use for heavy rail. We have no cargo containers or oil tanks to transport here.

    The train has left the station, regarding MARTA in Johns Creek. It would take decades to happen, and by then would be outdated.

    It is time we look toward new technologies and seek innovative concepts and put our City ahead of the curve. See below, these shuttle pods are in the horizon. Door to door: comfortable, efficient, clean and safe.




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    John Bradberry

    If the TSPLOST passes in Fulton County, I hope that the legislature will not allow MARTA to siphon off a portion of it. If MARTA is awarded new TSPLOST revenue, then MARTA buses will become a regular part of our daily commute, starting and stopping in front of you, slowing traffic even further. We are a bedroom community. MARTA is not compatible here. It will only serve as an excuse to further urbanization and density. The voters deserve a "clean bill" free of MARTA to vote on the merits of the TSPLOST. Even with a clean bill, it should be an uphill battle to gain majority support from the voters in the fall.

    At the JC City Council meetings, the staff have repeatedly asked for permission to spend $34k on a consultant's report that would suggest the proposed projects for Johns Creek. These are the projects to be funded by TSPLOST if it were to win approval. Wisely, the council has rebuffed this request noting that they need more info first. They want a general idea of the scope of these projects and the ballpark price tag so they can decide whether to seek a half dollar, seventy-five cents, a dollar, or more in negotiations with the other municipalities. These mere pennies equate to many millions over the life of the TSPLOST.

    What worries me is that this conversation has been totally backward. It has NOT been, "We have so many important projects that would really improve traffic if only we had the money." Rather, it has been, to paraphrase the public works staff "If we get a bunch of new money, we'll find places to spend it." The cart is way in front of the horse. We will hopefully get an idea of what the staff has in mind at the next meeting on Jan. 25.

    So, in Johns Creek, we need a clean TSPLOST free of MARTA strings that will only hinder us. We need to study the list of proposed projects to be funded by the TSPLOST and decide each individual project's merits. Ultimately, we should be able to say to ourselves as a city, that if a project is important enough, then we should be willing to pay for it whether or not the TSPLOST passes. And this then makes our government do as it should, judge each expenditure on its merits within a limited budget, not within an ever-increasing wish list where increased taxes are the answer.

    @n@rchy (@daemonova)

    you crying over five minutes from doraville to dunwoody, dunwoody is actually closer to john creek

    they tried to build a path up I 75 in the 80s, Brookwood residences shot that down

    they tried to build a path to windward in the 90s, changing political climates, like Republicans taking over Congress shot that down

    stop rewriting history



    Google Maps says that Doraville is closer than Dunwoody to Johns Creek. Better check your distances.


    The reason Marta doesn't go up I 75 is Cobb refuses to join. Also the State of GA DOT refuses to even give a penny to Marta. This is the only heavy rail system in the country that gets no assistance from the state. DC invested in their metro system. Here in GA we have refused to invest in anything. No to Marta. No to adequately funding roads. No to raising the gas tax (until last year and still lots of opposition in simply asking users to pay their fair share). We got what we deserved after years of intentionally not investing in our community.

    EJ Moosa


    Mass transit does not deserve a blank check. Cobb chose to go their own way so that they could control their own budgets and their own mass transit destiny. Nothing wrong with that.

    Not sure why the state need to pay for the mass transit for us locally We should be willing to pay for what we want.

    Mile per mile, Heavy rail returns little for each dollar spent. On a % basis a small number of people use MARTA daily.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with communities deciding that what is right for one may not be right for another.

    When you say DC invested in their transit system, be sure to remember where DC gets their money: Federal Taxpayers.


    I understand what you are saying. However, here in GA, we have basically decided to invest in nothing. There were plans to widen the top end of 285 back in the late 90s with local lanes running from Ashford Dunwoody to Roswell road along with a northern arc. The gas tax wasn't raised in decades, not even to keep up with inflation and when they did raise it last year, people were upset over a mere six cents a gallon.

    All mass transit (except for Marta) receive some some sort of state assistance. Sure you or I may never use it, but it does facilitate mobility and employment centers which indirectly benefit us all. Just recently Mercedes Benz relocated to Atlanta in Sandy Springs and chose Atlanta over Raleigh due to a Heavy Rail access.

    Chris Coughlin

    Anonymous, the reason they're subsidized is they can't develop a business model to even cover their operation expenses. Obviously, if 98% of all public transit systems are in the red every single year, then they'll require subsidies to survive - http://www.hamiltonproject.org/ee-ce-image/made/assets/img/uploads/wysiwyg/papers/infrastructure_june2015/infrastructure_fact4_800_535_80.jpg

    Chris Coughlin

    Also, Ernest and Anonymous, I found this article that you both might find interesting as we in Fulton County discuss a potential mass transit subsidy while we also discuss, in Johns Creek, potential economic subsidies - http://streets.mn/2012/05/21/cross-subsidies/.


    Hi Chris - I like the link you sent. I don't think any mass transit system ever fully pays for itself, even high density cities like NY, London or Tokyo.

    I just wish people in Georgia would be open to more spending on our own infrastructure - roads or transit. The people rejected T-Splost in 2012 and argue over user fees such as gas tax increases and at the same time expect congestion to relieve itself. Things are pretty good for almost everyone. We have very low gas prices, very low mortgage rates, very low personal income tax rates for those making under 250k and we enjoy a stock market that has more than doubled in the past six years - and that includes the sell off the market has experienced this month. We should be willing to make the investments in our own community - roads, transit or both. This is a great time to do so.

    N Hale

    Why is the answer always to pay more? Why as taxpayers do we not act like consumers and hold accountable politicians which are our conduits to government to answer where did our money go? It was raised for a specific purpose, not spent and now there is a request for more.

    As consumers, our wallets are not open ended. Taxes earmarked for transportation have been extensive through the decades in the Atlanta area - where did the money go and why aren't we holding folks accountable so we can prevent this behavior in the future?

    It isn't that taxpayers don't want to spend on Marta but Marta is a losing financial model. So prudently not funding it is the right answer.

    EJ Moosa


    I realize that you may feel things are good for everyone, but they are not. The fastest growing segment of the Metro Atlanta population is people living in poverty.

    The reason the TSPLOST was rejected, in my opinion, is a lack of trust in previous spending on transportation projects.

    We would be willing to invest in our own communities IF we saw the a high return on investment. So far, that return is difficult to determine.

    I have written several blogs on how valuable it is to reduce traffic congestion. Yet I my suggestions to the COJC have been outright rejected as we wait on multi-million dollar federal grants.

    One has to ask, as the TSPLOST comes up for another vote, is how high our local sales taxes can climb. Eight per cent? 9? Higher?

    Think of those digital speed limit signs and how often they break. Was that a good investment? Traffic circles versus the cost of stop signs?

    As N. Hale says, we have been paying a lot in taxes, and what we have not paid in tax, we have racked up in Federal deficits as much of this construction has federal dollars attached, and will pay for it later.

    We need to spend this money as efficiently as if it was our own. is that too much to ask?

    EJ Moosa

    A great link Chris Coughlin. I've been to Lindbergh and Buckhead and Lenox Station. I worked at First Atlanta next to Lindbergh 30 years ago. The congestion is worse today, Same around Lenox Mall.

    In the end they want the density to increase their tax flows. Reducing our time wasted is not a revenue source for government.

    JC does not need Rail

    The only problem when talking about Marta is the all access pass that it gives to those that DO NOT live or have any real reason to be in Johns Creek. Look at Perimeter Mall and all those that ride Marta just to hang out -- they are not purchasing anything.

    Similar to Lenox Mall delima those patrons have low disposable income.I do not want our economic demographic to change due to the influx of commuters using Marta. We do not need buses or Rail- light or heavy.

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