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Support For State Transit Funding Emerges In Georgia House

Atlanta's transit agency, MARTA, is the largest heavy rail system in the country that doesn't receive annual state funding.
Atlanta's transit agency, MARTA, is the largest heavy rail system in the country that doesn't receive annual state funding.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE
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The speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives indicated Thursday he’d support state funding for rail and bus transit.

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David Ralston made the comments in the first meeting of a House commission on public transportation. He charged the group of lawmakers and transportation leaders with developing recommendations for a statewide approach.

At the meeting, Ralston also addressed one of the big sticking points: Whether transit agencies can receive state dollars without giving up their autonomy.

“I am not of the opinion that the state must wholly control or take over a transit system in order to provide funding,” he said.

Atlanta’s transit agency, MARTA, is the largest heavy rail system in the country that doesn’t receive annual state funding.

MARTA General Manager Keith Parker, who is a member of the commission, said he couldn’t talk about whether state dollars would help the agency yet.

“Until we have a real good feel of exactly what types of funding, what strings may be attached to that, the length and breadth of it, I think it would be premature to comment,” Parker said.

Those at the transit commission’s first meeting cautioned that its work likely wouldn’t translate into legislation by the next Georgia General Assembly session.