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Public transit must be in the mix - Barrett McMullan

To the editor:

In your June 2nd article ("Officials unveil combined transit wish list") on the recent transportation planning process, you noted that plans for transit and roads to Henry and Clayton counties has survived the first cut. The regional roundtable committee must now decide which proposed projects promise the greatest benefits to the future of the Atlanta region, and thanks to this process, the cities have the unique opportunity to become a leader in thoughtfully planned transportation. Yet, as the necessary cutting down of proposals occurs, I urge readers to consider the manifold benefits of public transit.

Most obviously, increasing public transportation will reduce the overwhelming congestion on Atlanta roadways that we have all come to resent. Instead of spending hours stalled in the car during rush hour, Atlantans could actually use their time productively by working, or reading a book while riding on a MARTA train or bus. Additionally, as many studies show, roadway safety would increase because cities with high levels of public transit have significantly lower per capita traffic fatalities than those without transit options. Secondly, increasing transit will reduce our region's reliance on foreign fossil fuels. In fact, as a nation, we save 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline just by utilizing public transportation.

Similarly, public transit will also help us clean up our air, a welcome promise during these hot and smoggy summer days. Incredibly, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), a single person switching to public transit can divert up to 4,800 pounds of CO2 a year from our air. Finally, at a time when finances for many families are strained, perhaps the most important benefits of public transit are economic. According to APTA, every $1 invested in public transit results in $4 in economic returns, and households who use transit can save up to $10,000 a year.

Thus, as the roundtable continues its task of selecting transportation projects, I encourage readers to be especially vocal in their support for transit initiatives by talking to their county roundtable member. By speaking up for public transit and making sure these projects remain on the final "constrained" list, we can make the smartest transportation decisions, not only for ourselves, but also for the health of our beloved cities and the residents who will inhabit them for generations to come.

BARRETT MCMULLAN

Environment Georgia