By Joel Hall
State Reps. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Riverdale) and Darryl Jordan (D-Riverdale) will host a town hall meeting today to inform the public about possible cutbacks to -- or the elimination of -- the county's C-TRAN bus service.
Beverly Scott, general manager and CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), C-TRAN's operator, will be at the meeting to discuss C-TRAN's budget shortfalls, and talk about possible solutions.
The public meeting will take place today at 7 p.m., at New Macedonia Baptist Church, at 7725 Ga. Highway 85.
During a Clayton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting last Tuesday, Scott was scheduled to give a presentation about the financial challenges facing C-TRAN. Immediately after BOC Vice Chairman Wole Ralph expressed that Scott's comments to the board were "not part of what we discussed" in a pre-meeting session, the board voted to prematurely end Scott's presentation.
"Representative Abdul-Salaam asked if I would come to the meeting," Scott said on Wednesday. "She asked me, specifically, to redo the presentation that I was going to do before the Clayton County Board of Commissioners that I wasn't able to do, and I said that I would be happy to. I think anytime that you're a public agency, and dealing with public tax dollars, ... there is a requirement to have an open and public process. This is the way to do it."
During Tuesday's meeting, Scott said C-TRAN is currently operating with a $1.3 million budget shortfall, based on "flawed" revenue estimates from the county, which pays MARTA to operate C-TRAN. In response, the board called a public hearing, scheduled for Oct. 7, to discuss possible fare increases, the elimination of routes, and the elimination of C-TRAN altogether.
Abdul-Salaam said Tuesday's meeting will provide clarity to the public as to what options are on the table to save C-TRAN. "The citizens that will be most affected need to have the opportunity to learn what is going on," Abdul-Salaam said. "They have not had that opportunity. I think that it was unfortunate [that Scott's Tuesday presentation was cut short], because that was the one opportunity for citizens to hear from the source what the proposals were. Even as a legislator, I don't know about all of the options that are on the table. We'd like to know what can be done."
Abdul-Salaam said the Clayton County BOC has also been invited to the meeting to discuss what can be done to preserve the county's bus service. She hopes tonight's town hall meeting will serve as an information-gathering session.
"I'm interested in learning from all parties to see what can be done, and find out what can be done at the state level," to preserve C-TRAN, Abdul-Salaam said. "They [the BOC] need to tell us what they have done, what they haven't done, what isn't possible, and what is possible."
For more information about the town hall meeting, call (404) 656-0325.