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Recouping Costs at Different Rates Between Transit, Cars in Georgia

RAISES IN MARTA FARE SINCE 19711979: $0.25 (up from $0.15)1980: $0.501981: $0.601987: $0.751989: $0.851990: $1.001992: $1.251996: $1.502000: $1.752009: $2.002011: $2.50» 11 raisesRAISES IN GEORGIA EXCISE TAX ON GAS SINCE 19711971-2015: 7.5 cents» 0 raisiesThere’s a common misconception that transit users are getting a free ride on the backs of taxpayers while people who only drive cars are paying their way via gas and vehicle taxes. But that’s not true (note: I also generally don’t care for “us vs. them” arguments anyway since many people use multiple modes of transportation in their lives). Consider this: MARTA — which recovers 31.8% of its operating expenses from farebox at last count, with the remainder of its revenue sourced from a tax in Dekalb & Fulton Counties and the City of Atlanta — is in the black as of last year, thanks to sound management. Meanwhile, Georgia has to rely on federal funds in order to pay for roads, because the gas and vehicle taxes aren’t providing enough money. Our roads aren’t paid for by in-state money alone. Take a look at this chart and you’ll see that Georgia is one of the biggest takers of federal money when it comes to funding transportation. The graphic comes from this Pew study. An AJC piece from last year underlines how reliant Georgia is on federal money specifically for roads, because state taxes aren’t bringing in enough revenue to pay for them (emphasis mine):"Federal dollars account for more than half the money in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s total budget. And about two-thirds of the money GDOT spends on capital improvements comes from the federal Highway Trust Fund.”Between the funding of roads and transit in Georgia, the playing field is nowhere near level. The state provides no money for MARTA, yet it is tapped out on money for roads to the point that it borrows heavily from the feds. The car-dependent nature of our sprawling urban areas is the force that produces this broken system. People have had an unrealistic idea for many years about the economics of sprawl versus those of walkable cities, particularly the kind of pedestrian-friendly places that are easy to serve with buses and rail. It’s clear who’s the biggest moocher, in regard to built environments, when you look at the facts.