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MARTA to Expand into Suburban Clayton County
In a 1971 referendum, Clayton County (an adjacent county south of Atlanta that houses the city's enormous airport) rejected MARTA's service, as its white residents feared the transit system would make it easier for blacks to reach their suburbs. However, four decades later, with Clayton County's bus service collapsing, 74 percent of the county's diverse, largely working-class voters approved a measure to join MARTA and pay for the service with a new sales tax.
As discussed on The Week by Jacob Anbinder, MARTA is the only transit agency in the country that does not receive state-government funding. Despite a growing population in the last four years, between 2010 to 2013, the agency saw a 6,000-person decline in transit commuters, the most of any American city.
Moreover, Atlanta's commuting patterns are not the typical hub-and-spoke style. Anbiner discusses how, "Atlantans need to go from suburb to suburb more than they need to go downtown. Four in five Clayton commuters work somewhere other than Atlanta; at the same time, four in five people who work in Clayton County don't live there. Like Atlanta's aptly named Perimeter Center Mall, the new center of MARTA's network may well be at the perimeter."