This call isn’t only about transit. It’s a much wider call-to-action because without transit – soon and urgently – we won’t get the Beltline we’ve been talking about all these years. Regarding the use of $2.5+ billion from the 2016 MARTA referendum in the City of Atlanta, here’s what I think we should be asking for:
- Mobility-focused transit investments that are removed from traffic so that people can actually move – the referendum should support a complete strategy for funding traffic-free transit, including the entire 22-mile Atlanta Beltline.
- People-focused transit investments that help us accommodate our rapidly growing population – the referendum should support projects that help build a future Atlanta that people still want to live in.
- Equity-focused transit investments that are integrated with housing policies and that create ladders of opportunity – the referendum should ensure that Atlanta remains a city for everyone and that existing and low-income residents can enjoy the benefits of growth.
If you care about that version of the Atlanta Beltline – the beautiful one that includes everyone and changes our lives for the better – then we need you to help:
- School yourself on the issues. The Atlanta Beltline is necessarily complex – especially for interrelated issues like equity, affordability, and transit. Here are some resources.
- My recommendations for changes to the MoreMARTA plan.
- My opinion about why transit on the Beltline is threatened and why that matters to equity and affordability.
- My history of transit on the Beltline – transit planning context since 2003, including MARTA’s 2007 Board commitment supporting rail on the full Beltline loop.
- FAQ on why transit on the Beltline is important – and why transit makes the Beltline for everyone.
- FAQ on why Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) doesn’t work for the Beltline.
- FAQ on other tired arguments against the Beltline, including technocratic responses like, “there aren’t enough people there.”
- FAQ on the Beltline and affordable housing. Also, my personal commitment to this challenge.
- ThreadATL on MARTA’s 2017 survey confirming that the top project that Atlantans want is rail on the Beltline.
- NextCity’s take on how “Mass Transit Investment Also Matters for Economic Mobility.”
- Atlanta Beltline’s official transit page.
- Broaden the movement. Attend a #beltlinerailnow meeting to broaden the movement, share your voice, show solidarity, learn more, and find specific needs that may need your help. We meet every second and fourth Sunday at 4:00. Check (and “like”) the Beltline Rail Now Facebook page for meeting locations, upcoming events, and other information. Sign our petition at change.org!
- Take it to the ‘hood. Make sure your neighborhood association or NPU is aware of the challenge ahead for Beltline transit, the urgency to do something, and the implications if we don’t follow through. Get on the agenda and speak up! Here’s a page to help you find your NPU meeting.
- Take it to the top. Talk to your City Councilmember and make sure that city leaders hear our message loud and clear – make it an urgent call for transit on the Beltline now. Here’s a page to help you find your representative on City Council.
- Take it to the rails. Do the same for MARTA’s staff and board. Here’s a page with the MARTA Board of Directors – know any of them? Reach out and share your thoughts.
- Get social. Face-to-face, personal connections are always best, but we should also leverage the most of social media. Share that you care, share any information you find, and use the tag #beltlinerailnow. Better yet, create original content – write a personal blog post or make a video about why transit on the Beltline is important you. This will be the most effective use of social media.
- Show your love. Love for the Beltline is why we’ve made it this far. If you love it, show your love. Make a flyer, poster, t-shirt, or button. Wear it around town or to a community meeting. Make a transit movie. Host a transit party. Write a Beltline song.
- Get out. Walk the Beltline – and make sure you go beyond the Eastside Trail to remind yourself how much more there is to this project than greenways.
See you out there! Let’s do this. >> Ryan Gravel