MARTA Matters: To our State, Regional and Local Economy
MARTA serves as a significant economic catalyst to the state and region by attracting major companies and international events, providing transportation to major employment centers, linking to other transit providers, and offering a direct connection to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is considered the world's busiest airport.
Independent studies have repeatedly shown that transit systems pay huge dividends to communities where they are located and MARTA is no exception. For example:
- In 2007, MARTA was directly and indirectly responsible for the creation of about 23,000 jobs in Georgia, including 8,654 jobs outside it's core service area of Fulton and DeKalb Counties, and the City of Atlanta;
- MARTA provided an estimated $2.1 billion in economic impact to Georgia's economy in 2007 by lowering the cost of commuting and increasing worker productivity. That includes more than $971 million in economic value beyond MARTAs service area;
- By 2030, it is projected that MARTA will be responsible for creating 37,000 jobs statewide, including about 14,500 in parts of Georgia that are beyond its service area;
- In 2030, MARTA is projected to add $6.3 billion in economic value to the state including more than $2.4 billion in benefits distributed beyond its core service area;
- Every $1 billion invested in public transportation capital and operations support an average of 36,000 jobs;
- Every $1 billion invested in public transportation also yields $3.6 billion in business sales and generates nearly $500 million in federal, state and local tax revenues;
- For every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is generated in economic returns;
- And nationally, the cost and time lost from traffic congestion would be 15 percent worse without public transportation services;
MARTA Matters: To Georgia's Tourism and Hospitality Industry
The Atlanta region has historically been a major transportation center and MARTA is key to attracting large-scale events that are an advantage to our state and regional hospitality industry. Because of MARTA, metro Atlanta has been an ideal destination to host the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, College Bowl games, SEC Championships and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
MARTA also appeals to major business conventions, trade shows and cultural events that need to transport their guests quickly, safely and affordably. We provide conveniently accessible transportation to major hotels, shopping centers, cultural venues and employment hubs throughout the region and offer a direct connection to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the worlds busiest airport. MARTA plays a critical role in this industry because:
- Hospitality is the second-largest industry in Georgia, generating more than $11.4 billion in economic impact each year and employing 230,000 residents;
- Sixty percent of full-time employees in Atlanta's hospitality industry use MARTA to get to work
- Approximately one-third of individuals attending events at the Georgia Dome, Turner Field, Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center take MARTA
- MARTAs Airport station, conveniently located inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, is a major catalyst for attracting businesses, events and conventions to our city and is one of Atlantas biggest recruiting tools
- MARTAs Airport rail station has the second highest ridership out of the 38 rail stations in our system only the Five Points station has a higher ridership;
- MARTAs one-way fare of $2 is quite a deal when compared to the cost of taking a taxi from the Airport to Downtown Atlanta, which is at least $30, and a trip on MARTA from the Airport to Five Points in Downtown Atlanta takes only 20 minutes;
- MARTAs rail stations directly serve major venues and attractions in Downtown Atlanta including the Georgia World Congress Center, Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, CNN Center, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke, as well as the location for the recently announced National College Football Hall of Fame;
MARTA Matters: To the Environment
When choosing the most environmentally friendly way to get from Point A to Point B in metro Atlanta, MARTA is a clean, green, pollution-fighting machine that delivers significant benefits to our region and state.
MARTA and transit systems throughout the state serve as the best weapons to combat the growing problems associated with traffic congestion, poor air quality and our over-reliance on fossil fuels. Transit helps reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants that damage the environment and create health problems for those who suffer from chronic respiratory ailments. In addition, MARTA is proud to be a green employer. Here are some key facts about MARTAs environmental stewardship and benefits:
- MARTA takes more than 185,000 cars off the roads each day.
- All of our state and Metro Atlanta federal transportation funding depends on meeting mandated air quality standards. Without MARTA, the region and State would risk losing its eligibility to qualify for billions of dollars in future transportation investments.
- MARTA helps reduce Georgias 7.6 million transportation related metric tons of CO2 output by providing alternative transportation options.
- MARTAs entire bus fleet uses clean fuel technology, which significantly reduces air pollutants in the Atlanta region.
- MARTA also houses two regional compressed natural gas fueling stations as well as four water recycling centers for bus and rail operations.
- MARTA's award-winning, transit-oriented development program is focused on helping transit communities. The goal is to encourage decision-making about land-use that facilitates transit system expansion and supports smart growth and sustainable communities.
- MARTA recently received the largest federal Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) Grant $10.8 million dollars to install energy efficient solar panels at its Laredo bus facility in Decatur. This will be the largest photovoltaic installation in Georgia. The project will reduce pollution while creating green collar jobs and producing a sustainable source of power to the facility.
- In 2009 MARTA received the Clean Cities Lifetime Appreciation Award from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) for its work with the City of Atlanta to reduce petroleum consumption and its role as an industry leader in the use of Clean Natural Gas (CNG) buses and technology.
- MARTA planted approximately 500 trees at its Armour Yard rail facility to help absorb harmful pollutants and reduce CO2, ozone and small particulate matter from the air.
How Is Transit Part Of the Smarter Way?
As the Draft Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan (SSTP) states, addressing the expected shortfalls in current transit operating funds should be a top priority for state and local governments. The states approach to transit maintenance and operations is to maintain a state of good repair on the equipment it operates (e.g., GRTA buses). For MARTA, existing funding sources do not cover current service levels and will only get worse. Utilizing only existing funding sources, MARTA will operate at 50-70 percent of current levels by 2030, according to the Draft SSTP. Beyond MARTA, GRTAs Xpress bus service will also be cut or eliminated because there will not be operating funds to support it.
Doing nothing to increase funding for the transportation network including transit means that in metro Atlanta per capita congestion costs will nearly double todays levels. Employment-center talent pools (i.e., the number of people who can reach an employment center in 45 minutes) will be 33 percent smaller than today, significantly eroding the value proposition to future employers and putting future job growth at risk. The public acceptance of cutting transit and increasing congestion for metro Atlanta will be particularly adverse when this story is contrasted with the aggressive investment its peers are making to mitigate congestion and create reliable trips through HOT-lane networks and new transit options.
The Atlanta region, through the collaborative work of state, regional, and local leaders, has already developed a long-term vision for new transit investment called Concept 3, which includes a network of heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, streetcars, arterial buses, local buses, and urban circulators. Gradual build-out of Concept 3 would again make the state of Georgia a national leader in transportation, and components of the vision, such as BRT, streetcars, and in-town light rail, would provide a convenient alternative to automobile traffic on congested arterial streets and enable more dense, mixed-use development over time, according to the SSTP. Further, if a mixed-use development pattern actually occurs within a 20-year horizon, the benefit is tremendous congestion costs fall by an additional 38 percent and the number of people that can reach major employment centers within 45 minutes expands by 109 percent (vs. 39 percent if development patterns continue on the current trajectory). Given the upside available from attracting more residential density in the employment centers, public-private partnerships that focus transportation enhancement funds in a few areas and match them with other sources of public and private capital could become compelling public investments.
Even as trends predict a growing interest in transit services, our state, like the nation at large, has experienced a chronic underinvestment in transportation infrastructure, which has hurt our economic growth.
- The U.S. ranked 27th of 36 countries listed by the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of percent of GDP invested in infrastructure and other components of fixed capital formation.
- From the 1960s to the 1980s, Georgia consistently invested more of its GDP in transportation infrastructure than the rest of the nation, creating a phenomenal set of assets that have been the backbone of the states success: the worlds busiest airport, the fourth-largest and fastest-growing US port, the largest intermodal facility on the East Coast, an extensive Interstate highway system, and the largest rail network in the Southeast.
- However, beginning in the late 1980s, Georgia's investment posture began to rely on past-investment success rather than actively preparing for the future. By 2006, state and local governments in Georgia combined invested only $380 per person (excluding bonds) in transportation. This was about half the national average and far less than what Texas ($730 per person), Florida ($730 per person), Virginia ($630 per person), and North Carolina ($500) have been investing. Across the United States, only Tennessee invests fewer dollars per capita ($354) than Georgia.