Archive for the ‘News’ Category

MARTA fares to rise in fall

MARTA is planning a 25 percent fare hike for the fall.  The increase would push the one-way base fare from $2 to $2.50. The more painful change would be in the price of regular monthly passes from $68 to $95 -  an increase of almost 40 percent. The latest fare hike comes just two years after the last one, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009. MARTA fares had held steady for eight years before that.

MARTA train crossing I-75/85

Flickr photo by Willamor Media

MARTA’s board Chairman Jim Durrett told the AJC that the fare hike might be implemented in stages – 25 cents now and another 25 cents later – rather than all at once, but it sounds like some fare increase is a done deal.

The agency has already resorted to service cuts, staff reductions and borrowing from its capital reserves to slow its fiscal bleeding in the last few years. But with the capital reserves expected to be tapped out in just two years and the price of fuel creeping up, we’re probably going to keep paying more for less until the transportation tax kicks in.

If you’d like to have a word with MARTA about the proposed increase, there will be public hearings on May 16 and May 17.

A new Amtrak station for Atlantic Station?

The Georgia DOT has applied for a $22.5 million grant for the construction of a new Amtrak station at  the intersection of 17th Street and Northside Drive, near Atlantic Station.

Creative Loafing reported that the estimated cost of building the new facility would be approximately $39 million. Georgia DOT and Amtrak would provide the remaining funds in cash and the value of the land.

The Amtrak station in Brookwood opened in 1918 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately a building doesn’t make it to that age without showing some wear. The parking lot in front of the building was closed to cars last month because GDOT  determined that the structure supporting it wasn’t sound enough to safely handle the weight load any more.

Although a new multi-modal transit station is planned for downtown near MARTA’s Five Points Station, completion of that project is likely to be at least a decade away. In the meantime, the state says that the small Brookwood station has already seen a 16 percent increase in passengers since 2009.

What do you think? Should the DOT, if possible hold onto any grant money they’re awarded to use for the construction of the MMPT, or to fix the existing station? Or is a new Amtrak facility important enough to make the investment now?

Public hearings at MARTA, GDOT and ARC

MARTA

Tomorrow, March 24, MARTA is holding three public hearings   – two in Atlanta and one in Decatur – to gather input on bus route changes as well as tenative plans to revive the Braves Shuttle. The shuttle, which usually runs from Five Points Station to Turner Field on Atlanta Braves game days, was axed during last fall’s service cuts. Bus routes affected by the proposed changes are:

  • Route 2 – Ponce de Leon Avenue/Moreland Avenue
  • Route 87 – Roswell Road/Morgan Falls
  • Route 99 – Boulevard/Monroe Drive
  • Route 181 – Buffington Road/South Fulton Park & Ride

Here’s a map (PDF) detailing the proposed changes to routes 2 and 99. Here’s one for routes 87 and 181. The service changes, if they’re adopted will go into effect June 18.

GDOT

Next week, on March 30, the Georgia Department of Transportation is holding a hearing for public input regarding the Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (PDF) project that’s planned for the downtown “gulch” area. GDOT announced last week that it had selected a development team led by Cousins Properties to build the potentially transformative transit project, but proposal summaries from all three of the short-listed development teams are still on the GDOT site.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, use the online comment form.

ARC

Still not enough civic engagement for you? The Atlanta Regional Commission is inviting metro Atlantans to an ”online public meeting” to offer opinions on draft transportation recommendations  for “Plan2040,” the agency’s plan to “accommodate economic and population growth sustainability over the next 30 years.”  The online meeting is open until April 30.

Sunday Paper folds

Atlanta Progressive news reported Monday that newsweekly The Sunday Paper is no more – at least in its current form.

The Sunday Paper’s site has been taken down and in its place is this message:

“SundayPaper.com will re-launch

SP will be back on January 7, 2011 as the complete source for coupons, deals, fun and culture in Atlanta.”

Sounds a bit like another Access Atlanta or Atlanta Insite. Does anyone really think we’re short on sources of “fun” around here? I’ve heard that some people think that knowing what’s going on in our city is fun. Could be just a rumor, though.

APN quoted an email from former editor Stephanie Ramage that read, in part  ”Patrick Best, our publisher, informed me that The Sunday Paper would no longer be doing news.  Patrick was as nice as he could be; the decision, he explained, was merely the product of today’s business environment.”

Talk about bad news.

Maybe one of us will win the lottery and we can start another paper. Or maybe just buy a mall.

City of Atlanta water contains probable cancer causing chemical

An environmental group that tested drinking water in the city of Atlanta found it contains hexavalent chromium, a chemical that the National Institutes of Health has described as a “probable carcinogen.”

The Washington-based Environmental Working Group said in a study released Monday that the level of the chemical in Atlanta’s water ranks 13th-highest among water systems it tested last spring in 35 U.S cities.

But water officials in Atlanta and metro Atlanta said Monday that the level of the chemical found in the city’s drinking water, .20 parts per billion, is well below the 100 parts per billion of “total chromium” in the water that the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe to drink.

Read mo’ from the AJC

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No worries. Just drink Coke instead! This is Atlanta, after all.

From Sunday sales laws come “shot houses”

A little noticed story was reported by WSBTV Channel 2 last night. Apparently, someone in a College Park neighborhood was selling booze out of their home on Sundays in what the story refers to as a “shot house.” According to police, “Customers could go to the home on Surrey Trail and order a drink, or buy a six pack on Sunday.” Hmmm. So the illegal activity in question is a direct result of the government’s decision to outlaw an activity one day out of the week that it fully supports and collects taxes on the other six days of the week. WEIRD.

These are probably NOT the kinds of drinks they were making at the shot house. I wonder if it had a name.

After receiving reports from neighbors about a line of cars in front of the home on Sundays, police “conducted surveillance, made traffic stops as customers left, and sent in an officer with a hidden camera. They then returned with a warrant and the SWAT team.” Okay, I get it. Something illegal was going on. And it’s the police department’s job to stop it. I understand that the problem here isn’t just selling alcohol on Sundays. Someone was selling out of a home in a residential neighborhood, operating without a license and in a place with children and families. Obviously, the potential exists for some sort of misconduct or violence to spill over. This is all bad. I’m glad the police intervened. 

 BUT. But. The fact that all of this happened – the bar’s existence, the police raid, the arrests, the coming prosecutions – happened because our state allows for the sale of alcohol Mondays through Saturdays. But not Sundays – unless you drink at a bar. On Sunday, it’s illegal. From a policy standpoint, it seems like a problem to require law enforcement to commit precious time, manpower, and resources to shut down shot houses while potential robberies, rapes, and homicides are taking place elsewhere. Can we just allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays already? Is it really too much to ask?

A Little Holi-data

Brookings city population change map

An indicator map illustrating population growth among American cities since from 2000 to 2009

Well, it’s almost Christmas and that means new toys. My current favorite actually came out in May, but somehow escaped my attention then. Let’s pull it out of the box and see what it does.

When The Brookings Institution’s “State of Metropolitan America” report was released this summer it drew attention locally because of its revelation that the city of Atlanta’s population - unlike that of most other major cities – is slowly becoming more white.

But, spend a bit of time fiddling with the dozens of levers and switches on the report’s interactive map and data exploration page , and you’ll find plenty more about how the city is changing (and staying the same).

Some examples:

Singles

Choose the “Cities” tab, “Households and families” on the “Subject” drop-down menu, and “Living alone households” on the drop-down labeled “Indicator.”.

Looks like there might be something to all the talk about Atlanta being a great place for single people. According to Broookings’ data, nearly 46 percent of Atlanta residents lived in single-person households in 2009, the second-highest percentage of the 95 cities listed and highest in the Southeast.

Now, change the indicator drop-down to “Change in living alone households since 2000.”

The report indicates that between 2000 and 2009, the number of single-person households in the city increased by nearly 47 percent, ranking it third amontg the 95 listed. One-person households increased by about 39 percent in the Atlanta metro area in the same period, which placed at number seven of 100. So, if you’re looking to meet someone, the odds are not only in your favor,  they seem to be getting better and better.

By the way, does anyone know what’s going on in McAllen, Texas? A 113 percent increase in less than ten years – what’s that about?

(more…)

Metro migration: You ain’t from around here…or are you?

“Everyone is from somewhere else.”

That phrase, along with “Everything is so spread out,” has a way of cropping up in descriptions of Atlanta, whether from new arrivals or decades-long residents.

While it’s true that “somewhere else” is often another state, another part of the country or another hemisphere, most of the time it’s somewhere else in Georgia, probably just a county or two away. That’s the pattern that emerged in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s latest “Regional Snapshot” report on local migration, published in March.

ARC analyzed IRS data that tracks moves in and out of the commission’s 20-county planning area from 2000 through 2007 for the report.

Michael Carnathan, the ARC researcher who produced the report, said it took about ten days of “pretty intense crunching” of the IRS data, plus about three weeks of writing to wring a user-friendly presentation of the numbers out of the 500,000-row spreadsheet he started with.

Of the approximately 3,128,896 people who moved into one of the 20 Atlanta metro counties between 2000 and 2007, nearly 60 percent came from within Georgia, and more than 52 percent moved from one metro county to another.
(more…)

Yes, but precisely HOW superdangerous is Atlanta?

A list of the country’s 25 most dangerous neighborhoods includes FOUR in Atlanta??  Oh my god, Marietta Street between Georgia Tech and Philips Arena is going to have 307 violent crimes! In some unspecified time period. My chances of becoming a victim here are one in nine?! Maybe I should think about moving to the suburbs – you know, we can get so much more house for the price… Oooh, but this area is more hip and trendy than 99% of U.S. neighborhoods. I should probably turn to a realtor for help.

What scary stuff is lurking behind this innocuous, 100-year-old condo building and design studio a few blocks down from the aquarium?

This is the vital information that’s been making the rounds from what seems to be some bunk real estate website and its “exclusive crime data.” It says they use algorithms, though, so it’s probably legit.

The Atlanta PD issued a response that I thought was pretty decent – City Councilman Kwanza Hall posted it here). They point out that no one can tell what methodology is used, that their numbers don’t match up with APD stats, that the study doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that the area in question includes major venues that host hundreds of thousands of people every year, and that the author is unresponsive to inquiries.

Do you think APD is hiding crime stats behind their skepticism? Is this report just sensationalism and jerrymandering in the pursuit of wrapping things up into a top-25 list? Is my chance of becoming a victim here in one year really one in nine? Ought I be panicking?

Southwest in the A

SW at Hartsfield?

Southwest Airlines, known in motivational and marketing seminars worldwide as a poster child for innovation and creativity, announced today that it’s buying out AirTran for $1.4 billion. I’m cautiously optimistic for the impact this will have on Atlanta. I like Southwest’s approach – it’s seriously no-frills, low-cost, for real. As a kid, my family would drive to Birmingham to fly Southwest. And my Atlanta allegiance, probably due to good marketing and the Skymiles program, lies much more with Delta than AirTran.

What think you guys? Optimistic about fares going down with more competition? Concerned about losing your AirTran rewards? Not a fan of waiting in line at the gate or the seat stampede? Couldn’t care less?

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