Area voters spoke loud and clear in Tuesday's election, with over 70 percent of the voters soundly voting NO on the penny sales tax increase to support area public transportation initiatives.
Whether you were on the yes or no side of the issue, what we can all agree on is that Atlanta area traffic is nightmarish, one of the worst in the nation, and is unacceptable to the vast majority of drivers.
However, the bottom line is that building new infrastructure doesn't necessarily guarantee people would choose to use public transportation as a means to get from point A to point B anyway.
We're in the South after all, in a city deep seeded in tradition and in general, with a population resistance to change. And unfortunately, people here generally like to hop in their over-sized vehicles and drive where they want to go when they want to go, even if it means there's a strong possibility of sitting in traffic for hours.
Atlanta didn't "grow-up" with a seamless public transportation system as let's say, New York, Chicago or Washington D.C. In those cities, taking the subway, rail or train is simply a way of life, and for many, requires much less effort than driving or taking a bus to a MARTA station.
In reviewing the proposed changes, I'm not convinced the updates would've really relieved that much congestion in the worst sections of Atlanta traffic anyway, especially considering that many residents, in general, don't seem to be all that interested in hopping on public transportation with the masses.
A huge shift in perception and behavior would need to occur for any significant traffic improvements to feel noticeable.
So, I support a campaign to rename Spaghetti Junction to Cluster F Clover.
However, if you are simply over Atlanta traffic, you don't need to wait for a TSPLOST type OF miracle to take action to improve its impact on you.
Some suggestions include:
-Telecommute or work remotely. I can personally recommend this approach after surviving 10 years of daily commutes through Spaghetti Junction that covered I-285, I-85 and GA. 400.
When looking for a new job, I purposely chose to work for a company that supported the concept of telecommuting and embraced a remote workfoce.
I cannot begin to describe the improvements in my quality of life now that I'm no longer spending 10 or more hours a week simply getting to and from the office, on top of spending 40+ hours doing a job I could easily do from the comfort from my own home office.
I'm spending more time with my family, eating healthier (since I'm at home and easily able to fix meals vs. going out to eat), make time for exercise and am spending far less money on gas and clothing.
-Focus your life around the area where you live. Dine and shop at local restaurants. Choose medical and service professionals within five miles of your house. In an area like Peachtree Corners, we really have nearly everything we need within arm's reach.
-Carpool. When driving anywhere out of your community, whether it is to work or for play, carpool when you are able. I play in a once a month bunko group with friends that stretch from Decatur up to Duluth, down to Brookhaven and over to Acworth and Marietta. The five of us that live in the Peachtree Corners area always pile into one car to make the trip out of our neck of the woods.
-Take MARTA when you can- for me, this means to/from the airport. Other than that, sadly, Atlanta's dominant means of public transportation fails my needs. MARTA just doesn't have convenient stops to locations I'm going to. Driving my car 20 minutes to a station to take a train to take a cab or a bus to my final destination just ain't gonna happen.
And, if someone like me, someone who is very concerned about air quality, someone who dislikes driving, someone who actually enjoys public transportation, doesn't find our system easy and acceptable, not many will.
Yes, I would like to see vast improvements in our public transportation system. However I, like many, believe there are other sources where the money could and should come from (not an across-the-board sales tax).