By Joel Hall
The Marietta-based New Order National Human Rights Organization will stage a rally on Saturday to protest the Clayton County Board of Commissioner's decision to terminate the county's C-TRAN bus service, effective March, 31, 2010.
This summer, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), which is currently contracted by the county to operate C-TRAN, reported the bus system was suffering a $1.3 million funding shortfall. On Sept. 11, MARTA's General Manager and CEO Beverly Scott issued a letter to the Board of Commissioners stating that if the board did not take action to start the process of public hearings required to make changes to the C-TRAN service, she would terminate MARTA's contract with the county within 120 days.
On Oct. 7, the board held a public hearing to field opinions from the public about proposed cuts to C-TRAN's service. On Oct. 13, the board voted 4-1 (with BOC Chairman Eldrin Bell opposed) to end the service, altogether.
The protest rally is scheduled for Saturday at noon in front of the Clayton County Administration Building, located at 112 Smith St., in Jonesboro. According to the organization's president, Gerald Rose, C-TRAN riders, bus drivers, and concerned citizens will voice their opposition to the county's recent decision.
"We're angry and we're not going to let this issue go away," Rose said. "A lot of people are shocked, and don't know how they could shut down a whole transit system. People are going to be stranded. Even though I am not a citizen, or voter, in Clayton County, I feel like their rights are being violated."
C-TRAN's service currently consists of five routes, 24 buses, six para-transit vans, and 92 employees. Thousands of riders depend on the system as their primary means of transit, and about 60 percent of the riders depend on the service to go to work, according to MARTA officials.
Rose said ending the service would impact the lives of many people who depend on the service, as well as drivers who are employed by the service.
"With March approaching, we feel like there will be more crime here, people who are disabled might not be able to get around, people who don't have driver's licenses and need to ride the bus for their job, might not have a job," Rose said.
"We're going to keep it out in the public eye and let them know that we are not going to give up, even though the C-TRAN decision was made. Hopefully, someone will step in to fund the C-TRAN system."