Suburban Atlanta Rejects Transit, Again

The third time was not the charm for a transit sales tax in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

2 minute read

April 3, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Mark Winfrey / Shutterstock

Tyler Estep and Amanda C. Coyne report that Gwinnett County voters rejected a proposed sales tax that would have funded the extension of the MARTA transit system into the suburban county.

"Gwinnett has now rejected MARTA three times," according to the article, including in 1971 and 1990, but there was reason to believe this time might be different. "Since the last vote, the county has nearly tripled in population and shifted from a conservative suburb to a deeply diverse community that’s rapidly urbanizing and has shown an increased acceptance of political issues like mass transit."

Planetizen picked up a separate article by Coyne from February 2019 that provided details about the Connect Gwinnett Transit Plan that the sales tax would have supported.

As for why the transit referendum failed, Estep followed up on news of the vote with analysis that credits the outcome to a grassroots opposition campaign that did a better job delivering its message than the well-funded pro-transit campaign urging support for the tax. Some supporters of the tax blamed the failure on the decision to hold the referendum during a special election, rather than a general election.

David Wickert and Estep provide yet another follow up article mining the failure of the transit referendum for lessons to inform future efforts to approve transit funds, generate more transit funding, or join the MARTA system in Gwinnett and other counties in the region. "The stakes are high as other communities – including FultonDeKalb and Cobb counties – consider similar transit expansion initiatives. Elected officials and others say learning the right lessons from Gwinnett’s failed referendum will be crucial as metro Atlanta tries to address traffic congestion and compete for good jobs," explains the article.

Finally, for analysis of the vote's results from a national perspective, see an article by Daniel C. Vock for Governing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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