Buckhead is positioned to become what successful metropolitan areas need – walkable, bikable, livable, transit-served job and activity centers connected to other job and activity centers by public transportation. This has been a long time coming, and we still have a long way to go. But I have spent the last 14 years of my professional life advocating for this kind of growth and development, and I can honestly say that for the first time, I believe that the brass ring is in sight, and we are poised to grab it.
What makes me believe this? Convergence. In January of this year, the Regional Transit Committee, a policy committee of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), was established to focus on issues of regional transit planning, funding, governance and implementation. It is chaired by Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, who happens also to be the chairman of the Transportation and Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In the 2010 Georgia General Assembly, the legislature finally passed a transportation funding bill to fund all modes of transportation, including transit, sidewalks and bike facilities. The bill, HB 277, also established a Transit Governance Study Commission to examine the feasibility of combining the region’s public transportation entities into an integrated transit body. This Commission is at work right now. We have NEVER had this kind of attention being paid to creating a truly regional, integrated transit system. In addition, the federal government supports this kind of state and local initiative with funding.
Last month, I attended Rail~Volution in Portland, Ore. Rail~volution is all about the relationship between land use and transit and how attention to both can lead to greater livability in our communities. Lessons learned, best practices, case studies, innovations – all were on display to help attendees think in new ways about how to achieve what we are positioned to achieve in Buckhead. I invite you to view a short, but very good video, shot mostly at this year’s Rail~Volution conference, that shows what is happening across the country, and what we can aspire to.