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Old 07-24-2009, 09:13 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
6,533 posts, read 6,780,319 times
Reputation: 3693

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Quote:
Originally Posted by south-to-west View Post
"I like paying taxes, with them I buy civilization." --Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
Love that quote, along with this one:

University student: "And who's going to pay for all of this [proposed federal projects] Senator?!"

Robert F. Kennedy: "You are."
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Georgia
2,331 posts, read 1,320,534 times
Reputation: 892
Quote:
Originally Posted by straightfromatown View Post
I just read through a lot of the plan and there were some interesting additions. A lot of them look like they would be beneficial to a lot of people. But they are way too expensive. Hundreds of millions of dollars for Marta segment additions? Sure, the additions will increase Marta ridership, but not enough to cover the costs. If they would, then private investors would be all over this right now. They would loan the money to Marta to complete whichever addition they thought was most valuable and then make a nice return when Marta pays them back. They haven't invested because they know that while there would be gains, they would not be enough to offset the costs and there would be a net loss. Since these projects aren't profitable, the only way they happen is if the government steps in and pays for the loss through taxation.

Now maybe I have a defeatist attitude, but I don't want to be forced to pay for any parts of this project. The private industry modes of transportation (taxi, shuttle, my car) suit me just fine. A 1% sales tax increase means hundreds of dollars a year out of my pocket. Marta already goes everywhere I'd like, so I'd be getting nothing out of it. Even if it did take my somewhere new, I'd rather keep the hundreds in my pocket and be able to make the choice to take a cab, shuttle, or drive whenever I decide to go there.

If private investors want to build it and then charge me to ride, that's fine. It seems immoral to me though for my government to force me and other Georgians to pay for this. I hope others feel the same way, otherwise we may as well just hand all our money over to the bureaucrats who put together nice looking plans and let them decide what is best for us in life.
If MARTA were all costs and zero benefit, I would agree with you. However, as STW pointed out, a robust mass transit system brings its community considerable economic benefits, often times well above the costs of construction and maintenance. If you don't believe me, I urge you to read the projected economic impacts of Concept 3. (And keep in mind that this study was NOT done by MARTA. http://tpb.ga.gov/Documents/TPB/Aug08/Attachment%202%20_AgendaItem%20IV_Concept%203%20ma p.pdf (broken link))

If you're STILL not convinced, remember that a sales tax is a choice. You don't have to pay it; you can choose to either buy from a county that does not have a local sales tax, or you can choose to buy less. Frankly, I think it makes more sense for a variety of reasons to impose a progressive income tax, but I realize that this would never fly in Georgia. So a sales tax will have to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by south-to-west View Post
I hate to break it to you, but when you take a dump and flush it down the toilet, everyone in your municipality pays for it (if you're connected to sewer that is). My point is that everyone has an impact, everyone runs up costs to the public sector, and even you driving in a car is a cost to the public sector because roads are financed through--SURPRISE--tax dollars.

I rarely drive on Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Gwinnett, so why should I pay for it? I'll tell you--it's because it's an important corridor that connects Atlanta with several cities in Gwinnett, as well as important regional activity centers. It facilitates commerce, which employs people and generates tax revenue, which in turn may be spent to improve a transportation facility near my place of residence. You see where I'm getting at?

MARTA provides a transportation alternative that keeps some cars off the road, so they're less congested, it provides transportation for those without a car so they can get to work (and pay taxes), it shuttles tourists and visitors from the airport to important regional activity centers (generating tax revenue), and its stations provide an opportunity for redevelopment (generating additional property tax revenue). All of those benefits from just paying 1 cent on every dollar...amazing.

"I like paying taxes, with them I buy civilization." --Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
Well-said. How exactly do we pay for our police? Our fire fighters? Our ROADS? Taxes! They're a necessary evil, something necessary just to keep our civilized society functioning.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:37 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
6,533 posts, read 6,780,319 times
Reputation: 3693
Going back to the original topic....

I'm pretty sure that most of the projects slated for the City of Atlanta proper will be built.

The Beltline is moving along already, but it will be built slower since the City decided to fund a large chunk of it with tax revenues gathered from districts along the Beltline that were to be developed. Given the magnitude of the current economic crisis we are more likely to see portions of the Beltline built in already high density areas (east Midtown, West End

There was a story the other day that the City has decided to move ahead and start building the streetcar down Peachtree, with many people advocating also beginning the lines down Piedmont Ave and Ponce.

As far as the other projects around the Metro go I do not think they currently have the right stakeholders involved to really fight for it like the Beltline and the Streetcar have. Honestly that's not all due to a NIMBY mindset either.

Most people in Metro Atlanta live under a highly decentralized government. I don't think it's a stretch to state that at least a large majority of those living in the core suburban counties want at least commuter rail into the city. Unfortunately, our Goober Governor (Republican or Democrat you have to admit he is a classic Georgia Goober) doesn't see fit to allocate the time, funds or advocacy on addressing this need the public is demanding.

My hope is that the next governor is from Metro Atlanta and it doesn't matter (kinda) if they are a Republican or a Democrat. That's coming from a self avowed pinko commie socialist too!

All kidding aside, only someone from the core counties of Metro Atlanta could understand the need we have for more public transportation of all varieties. The sooner we have someone who understands that the sooner we'll get everything we want done.
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:32 AM
 
184 posts, read 311,000 times
Reputation: 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by south-to-west View Post

I rarely drive on Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Gwinnett, so why should I pay for it?
You shouldn't. I agree 100%. Roads should be privately funded and people should be charged only for the ones they drive on. I don't think I should have to pay for any of the roads I don't drive on and I don't expect anyone else to pay for roads they don't use. We are nowhere near an ideal system like this today, but we should be trying to move towards it in areas like metro rail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by south-to-west View Post
MARTA provides a transportation alternative that keeps some cars off the road, so they're less congested, it provides transportation for those without a car so they can get to work (and pay taxes), it shuttles tourists and visitors from the airport to important regional activity centers (generating tax revenue), and its stations provide an opportunity for redevelopment (generating additional property tax revenue). All of those benefits from just paying 1 cent on every dollar...amazing.
Why stop with metro rail? With another 1 penny tax we could let the government take over all taxis. Imagine all the benefits! Why stop there? With another tax of just a few pennies we could close all private restaurants and grocery stores and let the government supply all our food. If the government is so smart and can make such great decisions about transportation, why not let them make all our decisions for us?

Taxes are necessary for some basic services like military, police, and fire. The government already controls many things from roads to the post office to the department of education. Almost all of their projects are failures when compared with similar projects funded by private industry. Putting government in control of another mass transit system is just another thing they can screw up and waste my tax dollars on. If these projects were really that great someone would have funded them already.

As for avoiding the 1% sales tax, I absolutely will. I will try to do my shopping out of any state/county that imposes additional sales taxes. I'm sure many other consumers will do the same. When this happens, the 1% tax is now hurting local businesses as it encourages consumers to make their purchases in areas not subject to the tax.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:17 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
6,533 posts, read 6,780,319 times
Reputation: 3693
Quote:
Originally Posted by straightfromatown View Post
You shouldn't. I agree 100%. Roads should be privately funded and people should be charged only for the ones they drive on. I don't think I should have to pay for any of the roads I don't drive on and I don't expect anyone else to pay for roads they don't use. We are nowhere near an ideal system like this today, but we should be trying to move towards it in areas like metro rail.
Then why live in America? Taxing the people to pay for publicly used resources, and allowing the citizens to represent themselves in deciding how and where it is built, is how our country was built and run. This isn't a conservative or liberal idea, it's an American one.

What you describe is some sort of corporate oligarchy. Do you really want some corporation, who has no obligation to care what you need or want, getting to call all the shots on transportation and infrastructure?
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:58 AM
 
8,699 posts, read 12,175,910 times
Reputation: 1959
Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
There was a story the other day that the City has decided to move ahead and start building the streetcar down Peachtree, with many people advocating also beginning the lines down Piedmont Ave and Ponce.


.
Do you have a link to this story?
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:18 PM
 
9,125 posts, read 23,567,049 times
Reputation: 3335
So I looked at the Concept 3 study, focusing on the segment that they propose for my area- the Canton-Town Center High Capacity Rail Line. Let me just say, if the mathmatics for this segment are representative of those in the rest of this study, there's some serious issues at hand. Let's look at the numbers for this segment:

- 21 miles of light rail, estimated to cost $1.266 billion to construct, which is an annualized debt service of $43.9 million
- Annual cost to operate- $38.2 million
- That's an annual cost of over $80 million
- Anticipated ridership in 2030- 1,800-4,000 people. OK, maybe I'll buy that

- Seeing how these are mostly commuter folks, it's basically the same people riding the train every day. So, for each of the 4,000 riders, we're spending $20,000/year to operate this train line. If it's only 1,800 riders, that's almost $45,000/year per rider.

- Even looking at the high side projections of the "Estimated Value of Primary Benefits", which includes things such as safety, fuel savings, economic impact, etc., they total $70 million/year, which is a $10 million net loss compared to the $80 million in expenses. Also, that $70 million number includes $63 million for "economic impact", which is a complete and total wild-ass guess meant to make the numbers look somewhat decent- how is a 20-mile commuter line going to generate $63 million in added revenue for the region, exactly?

If these numbers hold true for the entire study, I'm very afraid.
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:26 PM
 
2,345 posts, read 3,263,023 times
Reputation: 610
I would guess that commuter rail would be the last component of the plan, so light rail in higher density areas would come first. I wonder how the numbers you cited compare to communter rails currently operating in say the suburbs of Boston or elsewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
So I looked at the Concept 3 study, focusing on the segment that they propose for my area- the Canton-Town Center High Capacity Rail Line. Let me just say, if the mathmatics for this segment are representative of those in the rest of this study, there's some serious issues at hand. Let's look at the numbers for this segment:

- 21 miles of light rail, estimated to cost $1.266 billion to construct, which is an annualized debt service of $43.9 million
- Annual cost to operate- $38.2 million
- That's an annual cost of over $80 million
- Anticipated ridership in 2030- 1,800-4,000 people. OK, maybe I'll buy that

- Seeing how these are mostly commuter folks, it's basically the same people riding the train every day. So, for each of the 4,000 riders, we're spending $20,000/year to operate this train line. If it's only 1,800 riders, that's almost $45,000/year per rider.

- Even looking at the high side projections of the "Estimated Value of Primary Benefits", which includes things such as safety, fuel savings, economic impact, etc., they total $70 million/year, which is a $10 million net loss compared to the $80 million in expenses. Also, that $70 million number includes $63 million for "economic impact", which is a complete and total wild-ass guess meant to make the numbers look somewhat decent- how is a 20-mile commuter line going to generate $63 million in added revenue for the region, exactly?

If these numbers hold true for the entire study, I'm very afraid.
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:36 PM
 
2,345 posts, read 3,263,023 times
Reputation: 610
Did a quick search and found it. I would love to see this and suspect that eventually it will happen as part of the midtown mile but I am biased because the streetcar would go right by my home so it would be a huge benefit for me.


Groups desire stimulus money for streetcars*| ajc.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by aries4118 View Post
Do you have a link to this story?
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Georgia
2,331 posts, read 1,320,534 times
Reputation: 892
Quote:
Originally Posted by straightfromatown View Post
You shouldn't. I agree 100%. Roads should be privately funded and people should be charged only for the ones they drive on. I don't think I should have to pay for any of the roads I don't drive on and I don't expect anyone else to pay for roads they don't use. We are nowhere near an ideal system like this today, but we should be trying to move towards it in areas like metro rail.


Why stop with metro rail? With another 1 penny tax we could let the government take over all taxis. Imagine all the benefits! Why stop there? With another tax of just a few pennies we could close all private restaurants and grocery stores and let the government supply all our food. If the government is so smart and can make such great decisions about transportation, why not let them make all our decisions for us?

Taxes are necessary for some basic services like military, police, and fire. The government already controls many things from roads to the post office to the department of education. Almost all of their projects are failures when compared with similar projects funded by private industry. Putting government in control of another mass transit system is just another thing they can screw up and waste my tax dollars on. If these projects were really that great someone would have funded them already.

As for avoiding the 1% sales tax, I absolutely will. I will try to do my shopping out of any state/county that imposes additional sales taxes. I'm sure many other consumers will do the same. When this happens, the 1% tax is now hurting local businesses as it encourages consumers to make their purchases in areas not subject to the tax.
So what's your point, that any service that can't generate a profit should be cut? Tell me, how should a privatized fire department be funded? My next-door neighbor's apartment burned last year; should I be charged a hefty fee for the fire department's saving my apartment? Should it cost $9.95 per minute to call 911? And should every road, highway, and Interstate be tolled? Come on, get real. Citizens ought to EXPECT good mass transit just like they have the right to expect other systems of infrastructure. Seriously, this mindset that "government can't possibly get it right, and the private sector can do much better" is SO 1980s. Anyone who refuses to see that should better pay attention to what has happened in the private sector in the last year?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobKovacs View Post
So I looked at the Concept 3 study, focusing on the segment that they propose for my area- the Canton-Town Center High Capacity Rail Line. Let me just say, if the mathmatics for this segment are representative of those in the rest of this study, there's some serious issues at hand. Let's look at the numbers for this segment:

- 21 miles of light rail, estimated to cost $1.266 billion to construct, which is an annualized debt service of $43.9 million
- Annual cost to operate- $38.2 million
- That's an annual cost of over $80 million
- Anticipated ridership in 2030- 1,800-4,000 people. OK, maybe I'll buy that

- Seeing how these are mostly commuter folks, it's basically the same people riding the train every day. So, for each of the 4,000 riders, we're spending $20,000/year to operate this train line. If it's only 1,800 riders, that's almost $45,000/year per rider.

- Even looking at the high side projections of the "Estimated Value of Primary Benefits", which includes things such as safety, fuel savings, economic impact, etc., they total $70 million/year, which is a $10 million net loss compared to the $80 million in expenses. Also, that $70 million number includes $63 million for "economic impact", which is a complete and total wild-ass guess meant to make the numbers look somewhat decent- how is a 20-mile commuter line going to generate $63 million in added revenue for the region, exactly?

If these numbers hold true for the entire study, I'm very afraid.
If MARTA can push for what DART did--partial funding for the project from federal grants--that could take care of much of the capital expenditure. In a best-case scenario of 100% capital funding, and a worst-case scenario of economic benefits, you're only looking at a $5 million/year net loss. But that's still a loss. So who knows? Perhaps this part of the proposal needs to be reworked. But it is no reason at all to kill the project entirely.
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