As promised, here's a little bit on public transportation.
First of all, here's the ABH's story on the subject. Basically, Athens Transit has a shiny new plan, that isn't particularly shiny or new, in that it's more or less a compilation of the same things they've been trying to get the Mayor and Commission to pony up for for a few years now. Based on the somewhat limited coverage in the ABH, we're ready to say it's a good thing.
You know, if you listened to some folks around town (including us) you might come to the conclusion that the most important issues in ACC are the La Puerta del Sol zoning madness and the proposed three-laning of Prince Avenue. Those are important, to be sure, but take it from us, this trumps both of those issues.
You might remember about a month ago, when we lauded Super-Commissioner Elton Dodson for coming out swinging against poverty. Since then, he's been strangely quiet, perhaps in order to discourage States McCarter from leaving flaming bags of dog poo on his front doorstep. We hear those two don't get along. (We'd also point out that we sent him an email asking what he had in mind to combat poverty, but he hasn't responded yet. Must've been something we said.)
In any event, we humbly submit that if the Mayor and Commission is serious about tackling the problem and doing something to help the 28.6% of ACC residents that live below the poverty line (source here), then this would be a good first step. Is it the silver bullet? No, but have you seen gas prices lately? It's a good first step.
Not only would this be a good first battle in the war on poverty, it also helps out the more fortunate folks in ACC. Funding Athens Transit's requests according to the plan, combined with a campaign to encourage everyone to try the bus again, can cut down on traffic congestion, pollution, accidents, etc. That means safer neighborhoods all over Athens.
That's not to say there aren't problems with the plan as well. It could become a money pit. For whatever reason, and your crack editorial staff is guilty of this too, Southerners love driving places, and we sure haven't cottoned on to public transportation yet. Perhaps it's the lack of options, or the fact that Southern cities tend to be more sprawled out than other places. We're not experts, we don't rightly know.
There's this whole funding issue that we've got to address as well. First of all, the proposal in the State Legislature that would let cities besides Atlanta make their own transit authorities. We're in favor of that, assuming that the pols don't attach a bunch of silly riders on the bill as well. And we wouldn't mind adding an additional 0.25% sales tax to fund Athens Transit.
But we think it's worth a shot. So, as always, here's your call to action. Email your Commissioners, especially Elton D, who took a brave stand on poverty. Let 'em know how you feel.
Tips, scoops, gossip, unsubstantiated rumors? We're not picky. Send 'em here.