Macon Atlanta Commuter Express MACE Sheewana Davis Strayer University A new commuter express train that travels from Atlanta, GA to Macon, GA with multiple stops in cities between the main stations. The commuter train would run 7 days a week and possibly 24 hours a day depending up on the circumstances and DOT laws. The 77-mile line to Macon would be the seed and the spark – the first phase in a commuter rail network that would spider throughout the metro region from a multimillion-dollar transit station downtown.
The Atlanta region lacks a transportation hub that provides a central facility and transfer point for its existing and future intercity, regional and local transit services, and MACE intends to address this issue. I live on the out skirts of Metro Atlanta in McDonough, GA where if you don’t have personal transportation you are pretty much stuck. There is no such thing as public transportation like our counter-part Atlanta, in order to address this problem I would like to introduce the Macon Atlanta Commuter Express (MACE).
In Georgia, the matter of building high-speed rail is every bit as tangled as the network of clogged roadways and rush-hour bottlenecks on the highways surrounding Atlanta. Metro Atlanta is one of the three largest areas in the country without a commuter rail line. The addition of trains to the mobility mix would relieve congestion, improve air quality and help drive more efficient development patterns (Abdullah, 2011). Other cities and areas of this country are outpacing us in terms of the realization that cars can’t do it all. One city that’s come to grips with it is Charlotte.
Metro Atlanta’s competitor for jobs and residents took a proactive approach to its transportation options and built a 10-mile light-rail system in three years that has already exceeded expectations. According to the Association of American Railroads, rail business in the U. S. is poised for even greater gains, with companies expecting to invest a record $13 billion in 2012 to expand, upgrade, and enhance the nation’s rail network. Public transportation is surging in popularity in response to high fuel prices and growing concerns about climate change (Levine, 2006). Metropolitan areas from New York City to Los Angeles have aggressive xpansion plans to improve accessibility, convenience and ridership. Federal, state and local governments have increased public transit funding in an attempt to boost services; however, industry growth still remains weak. MACE would begin as a monopoly in the state of Georgia, because most public transportation is governed by Federal, state and local government but in this case it would be privately owned. MACE’s only competition would be Xpress a regional public transportation service provided by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), in collaboration with their transit partners in Cobb County (CCT) and Gwinnett County (GCT).
Xpress also provides connections and free transfers to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the 9th largest transit system in the US. Georgia has been working on a new project the Georgia Rail Passenger Program (GRPP) a joint program of GDOT, GRPA and GRTA. The program aims to revive passenger rail service in Georgia using existing railroad corridors to the maximum extent possible. GRPP proposes seven commuter rail lines and seven lines of intercity rail service with a common terminus in Downtown Atlanta.
Though the proposed program has been in planning since 2003 it has not come to life as of today. One of the reasons for not taking greater advantage of this initial rail transit investment is that Georgia views itself as a “rural” state. This is far from the reality. As of 2005, according to Brookings Institution data, 81 percent of Georgians live in the 15 metropolitan areas in the state, 84 percent of the jobs are in these metro areas, and they account for 89 percent of the GDP of the state (Leinberger, 2007).
Georgia is a metropolitan state. Due to the state not acting on a business venture that could bring more revenue into the city, as well as, ease congestion they left the door open for the private sector to bring the citizens of Georgia a service that is much needed. Investment in rail transit is the most important transportation infrastructure for metro Atlanta and Macon. Not investing in rail transit today would be akin to not investing in the highway system in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rail is the essential infrastructure investment since transportation drives development, and the type of development that is in most demand is walkable urban, which is best served by rail transit (Leinberger, 2007). The role of transportation driving development was dramatically demonstrated in metro Atlanta and Macon over the past nearly 200 years. Without the required transportation infrastructure investments in the 19th and 20th century (rail, roads and then air), the economic success story of Atlanta in particular would be very different.
MACE will thrive because the state is afraid to lose their “rural” title, but as most of us know nothing stays the same change is the most constant thing in the world and Metro Georgia is ready to embrace the change. Rail transportation has re-emerged as an essential transportation infrastructure. Metropolitan areas around the world and throughout the United States endorse this premise and are investing billions to create a portfolio of transportation options the market and economy is demanding, focusing the most attention on rail.
Now is the time for metropolitan Atlanta and Macon to recognize the same 21st century reality as MACE has. In conclusion, the Macon Atlanta Commuter Express will alleviate many of the residents of Georgia’s problems, as well as, become a solution to the urbanization and development of many new communities in the Metro and surrounding areas. So be on the lookout for the “Mighty Gold and Black Express” coming to a neighborhood near you. References Abdullah, H. (2011, May 31).
States high-speed rail effort keep heading off track. The Telegraph, pp. 2-3. Leinberger, C. (2007, December). Foot Loose and Fancy Free: A Field Survey of Walkable Urban Places in the Top 30 U. S. Metropolitan Areas. Retrieved from Brookings Institute: www. brookings. edu/walkableurbanism Levine, J. (2006). Zoned Out, Regulations, Markets, and Choices in Transportation and Metropolitan. In J. Levine, Zoned Out, Regulations, Markets, and Choices in Transportation and Metropolitan (pp. 67-71). Washington: RFF Press.