Politics

Advocates Hope Next MARTA Committee Chair Will Attract Funds

The chair of MARTA's state oversight committee was recently appointed as a judge, leaving a key position open at a moment when the transit agency is looking to expand.
The chair of MARTA's state oversight committee was recently appointed as a judge, leaving a key position open at a moment when the transit agency is looking to expand.
Credit Allison Guillory / WABE
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The chair of MARTA’s state oversight committee was recently appointed as a judge, leaving a key position open at a moment when the transit agency is looking to expand.

Lee Biola of Citizens for Progressive Transit views the outgoing chair, Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, as an ally – a big change from the previous chair.

“It went from someone who was antagonistic towards MARTA, who was throwing up barriers to accomplish anything, to someone like Mike Jacobs who was willing to work with MARTA and make things better,” Biola said.

He hopes the next chair will help MARTA build off recent victories; among them, expanded service into Clayton County and winning more budget flexibility from the state.  

In recent years, Republican lawmakers have touted the benefits of transit in attracting businesses to Georgia and creating more livable communities. But the state has remained stingy with funding. Biola hopes a new chairperson will help change that.

“It’s difficult to reconcile because they’re saying good things about transit but they’re implementing the same policies that the state has implemented over the last 100 years,” said Biola.

House Speaker David Ralston will have most of the say in appointing the new chairman. His spokesman says Ralston is gauging interest in the position now.