In a few hours, polls will close in Atlanta, where voters are making a decision on a penny sales tax for roads and transit. Recent polls have shown support for the measure to be soft, to say the least. Polling showed that support within the transit supportive urban areas of Atlanta fell below 50% a few weeks ago, likely due to the fact the multi-million dollar campaign was very focused on a suburban roads message and strategy (the picture says it all) and the legislature prohibited any of the measure’s funds to go towards MARTA’s desperate operating budget. Stay tuned to the blog as we update it with results and reactions as Atlanta votes tonight.
Update 8:43: Follow the results as they come in on the AJC website here.
10:15 pm: Early voting from the ballot measure has Atlanta voters saying not to the measure by 66%. Not good early returns for transportation advocates, more soon news and analysis soon.
10:34 pm: With 51% of votes in the measure is going down 65 to 35.
10:47 pm: WSB radio local @wsbradio calls it as a failed vote in Atlanta. I’m not too surprised, more to come.
10:55 pm: DeKalb County in urban Atlanta is the only county passing it (by 53%). Other urban county is not passing the measure (Fulton County losing by 53%). Clearly urban transit supportive voters were not convinced.
Multiple sources have officially called the measure against TSPLOST.
Here is a reaction from Ashley Robbins, Presidents of Citizens for Progressive Transit, a transit advocacy organization that promotes the use and expansion of quality public transportation in Atlanta.
“We are certainly disappointed by the outcome,” said Ashley Robbins, President of Citizens for Progressive Transit (CfPT). “We feel like given the lack of flexibility the legislature gave us, the regional roundtable was still able to craft a list that moved transit in the region forward. However, the inability to use the funds that would have been generated by the referendum for MARTA operations made the Transportation Investment Act a hard pill to swallow for transit riders.”
She continues, ”The success of the Clayton County non-binding referendum in 2010 is proof that the region does want transit. Tonight’s vote means that we have our work cut out for us as a region. Our transit systems do not have a unifying governance structure and are living on financial life support. We have already seen services cut to the bone or entire systems discontinued completely; we can’t afford more cuts and the time to act is now. This is an emergency that if not addressed will have major negative consequences for the regional economy and the quality of life for us all, whether we use transit or not.”
I’m signing off for now, but I’m sure there will be more reactions and analysis that unfold from tonight’s decisive result. Ultimately, voters, including transit supportive urban ones, were not convinced this was a good deal, and Atlanta’s transit funding crisis is more serious than ever. Transit riders will need to organize and build power to fight for their existing service and future transit needs as the region moves forward.