Today, the ARC voted in favor of their plan to redirect $25 million in federal stimulus dollars to help bridge MARTA’s crippling budget shortfall that threatened to close down services for entire days of the week.
In doing so, ARC came to the rescue of not only MARTA and it’s riders, but also inadvertently Georgia lawmakers , who’s inability to pass a number of important measures this session was just beginning to gain some serious traction in the press behind this massive MARTA fumble.
Not only were rail-noodling Dems up in arms, but so was all of Atlanta’s business community, who knew full well the importance of public transportation if Atlanta (and Georgia) wished to compete in something we like to call “the global economy.”
It was just getting good. Pissed lawmakers were giving the inside scoop on committee meetings, MARTA was calling for special sessions, we had the House Majority Leader on record saying he went to Disney World more often than he rode MARTA (and therefore couldn’t see the benefits to his Isle of Retirement (St. Simons.)
Those were the days. We were all pissed and we could smell the blood. It was going to be an embarrassment to end all embarrassments. One that might actually shame the legislature into action – since rational argument had long ago stopped having any effect.
But then ARC made their announcement that they had figured out a way to help MARTA through the year with the help of stimulus funding and all the press simply…vanished. The hounds were called back to the house, the horses led back to the barn.
Now, as the ARC votes in favor of formalizing the MARTA bailout by giving it $25 million for “preventive maintenance” (which MARTA will repay with $25 million in “capital improvements” around MARTA stations), transit advocates are cheering with a pit in their stomachs.
Happy the city isn’t being saddled with a public transportation system that keeps the hours of a Chik-Fil-A, everyone is now wondering if the legislature learned it’s lesson. Or have they instead learned that when they do nothing, someone else will clean up their mess?
With its generally spoiled 4-year old mentality, I’m going with the latter.