In which we discuss MARTA and “equity”

Commenter: “I also have to re-stress the equity issue. In your response, you stated that you don’t want to “subsidize [my] choice” to take MARTA. What about the people who have to take MARTA? The poor, the elderly, those that can’t drive for whatever reason (legally blind, narcolepsy, DUIs, etc). Our nation has an obligation to provide them with a way to to get to the store, to work, to medical appointments. Yes, the road system works for most people, and I am happy that our taxes pay for roads. But it doesn’t work for everybody, and that is why public transit is needed.
Here’s an article from the American Planning Association showing how public transit, specifically MARTA, is needed to promote equity and availability of jobs, and has economic benefits because of this: http://www.nvc.vt.edu/uap/docs/TSpubs/sanchez_connectionpublictransitemployment.pdf ”

Response: So now your defense of MARTA is “equity”? What do you mean by equity? The dictionary defines equity as “the quality of being fair or impartial”.  How is MARTA fair?

You are apparently a healthy, gainfully employed person that makes the choice to take MARTA because subsidies from taxpayers like myself make it artificially cost efficient for you. According to MARTA you only pay 27% of the cost of your commute. Based on a $2.00 fare that means the actual cost of your trip would be $7.41 each way.  If the goal is “equity” then MARTA should charge people that aren’t disabled or disadvantaged the full $7.41 and use the money to provide better service free of charge to people that are less fortunate. We can agree or disagree whether that is a good idea but I don’t see how anyone could say it is less equitable.

You also claim that a report justifies “how public transit, specifically MARTA, is needed to promote equity and availability of jobs, and has economic benefits because of this”. I have thoroughly reviewed the report you identify and there is absolutely no evidence to support your claim in there. In fact the report clearly states on page 3:”Despite the lack of evidence, public transit system enhancements continue to be recommended to help solve central city unemployment problems” (emphasis mine). The report you refer to also says,”Certainly the study results do not indicate a causal relationship between increased access to public transit and increased labor participation.”

As I have stated before, governments and their dependent agencies are inefficient delivery systems. Even if the goal of MARTA were to promote equity and create jobs it is not an effective way of doing so.

1 thought on “In which we discuss MARTA and “equity”

  1. On MARTA, I pay only 27% of my commute.

    What percentage do you pay for your commute? Zero percent. Drivers do not have to pay to use the roads.

    And before you say that the gas tax pays for it, keep in mind that gas tax doesn’t come close to covering road construction in Georgia, and it doesn’t take into account any external costs – such as the contribution to air pollution and ozone, greenhouse gases, increased insurance costs because of how dangerous driving is (one of the leasing causes of death is car accidents), etc.

    You state that I choose “to take MARTA because subsidies from taxpayers… make it artificially cost efficient for you.” The exact opposite is true. You choose to drive your car because taxpayer subsidies make it artificially cost efficient for you. You pay none of the external costs that I listed in the previous paragraph.
    I do not choose to take MARTA for the price, I take it for the environmental and health benefits.

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