Two of my friends had dramatically different travel experiences this week.
One left work Tuesday in Midtown when the snow started falling. After a few hours on the road, north bound traffic came to a complete halt on I-75 near the Paces Ferry Exit. She abandoned her car and walked to a nearby gas station. She was a regular customer and the manager offered her the opportunity to sleep on the concrete floor for which she was grateful. Her wonderful boss lived nearby and with the last bit of charge in her cell phone, she called him. He couldn’t get his car out of his driveway, so he walked 2 miles to the gas station with a coat and gloves to rescue her. They both walked back to his house where he and his wife fed and gave her shelter. It was Thursday morning before it was possible for him to get out of his driveway and drive her to her car. I met her at Einstein’s on Powers Ferry Road where we had coffee and she told me of her harrowing journey. She got home in East Cobb just after noon Thursday.
My other friend was waiting for a cousin to fly into Atlanta midday Tuesday. The cousin arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and she was going to take a cab to East Cobb. The deteriorating weather conditions kept any transportation by car out of the question. Not being a Cobb “scardy-cat” who is too afraid to ride a train that could have a black passenger, she got on MARTA and after a pleasant ride was quickly in Sandy Springs. Then she got a cab that brought her to East Cobb.
Thank you MARTA.
When there was no other way to get around Atlanta, MARTA is there.
When interstates are closed because of ice, accidents, road repair, ladders on the road, and a thousand other reasons, MARTA is there.
I can count on one hand the number of times MARTA has had to stop operations for a short time since I got to Atlanta 19 years ago.
MARTA is one of the jewels of Atlanta. Jewel thieves have had their sights set on stealing MARTA for a long time.
This great public treasure will not be given away or sold for a pittance. So, the Atlanta jewel thieves have been trying to change transportation reality to make their theft possible. They keep trying to make MARTA a liability instead of the great public asset that it is.
The thieves have gone to the state legislature in order to change how MARTA uses its funds for staffing and maintenance, even though not that one penny comes from state funds. This state control over a mass transit system that Georgia does not contribute a penny to is unique in America.
Thanks to our Republican controlled state legislature, MARTA had to reduce schedules, lay off employees, and raise fares. The thieves say that MARTA is not safe or clean and that it should be sold into private hands. These private hands give campaign contributions. These private hands will lower wages, reduce benefits to MARTA employees, and increase fares to MARTA riders. Profit will be their primary concern not rider safety.
When MARTA is in the hands of jewel thieves, Republicans in Cobb will discover that MARTA is safe clean and efficient. Republicans in Cobb will no longer demean MARTA as the conduit for thieves and felons of color. Many Cobb Republicans will either be on the privately held MARTA board, stockholders in the company, or recipients of MARTA campaign donations. Cobb Republicans like racism but they like money more. MARTA will become the safe, friendly, efficient way for Cobb Republicans to travel.
Formerly, anti-MARTA Cobb State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, will become a paid spokesman for the New MARTA. He’ll be pictured on a train sitting next to a black person, most likely a Braves ball player in uniform. Earl wouldn’t want you to think that he might sit next to a poor black person.
Not wishing to spend any money of the privately held New MARTA, its Cobb allies will suggest “public /private” partnerships to fund New MARTA’s reach across transportation hungry metro Atlanta, especially into transportation starved Cobb County. The “public” expense part of New MARTA’s expansion will come from the state budget or county budget but not out of the pockets of the new owners of New MARTA. The “private” part of this business relationship refers to the destination of the increased profits, namely the pockets of New MARTA’s owners.
Too strange to believe? Remember the “anti-tax Cobb Republicans” before they gave the Atlanta Braves over $300 million of Cobb tax dollars. Now, they are the “public/private Cobb Republicans” who praise the flow of public money going into private pockets. The Cobb Chamber of Commerce will save a front row seat for New MARTA at its meetings and New MARTA’s CEO will look a lot like Tim Lee. Commissioner Bob Ott will get a New MARTA engineers hat that he will put next to his Braves hat.