By Aubrey Meadows
Atlanta’s “snowpocalypse” of a meager two inches of snow caused the metropolitan area of 4.3 million people to come to a standstill on the highways and roads January 28-29. Commutes that are usually 30 minutes turned into more than 5 hours. Some individuals never made it home and opted to sleep in their cars, local CVS or grocery stores and even resided in strangers’ homes. Hundreds of kids were stranded at their schools and had to stay overnight.
So how is it that the main transportation hub of the Southeast U.S lacks efficient transportation? In the 1970’s MARTA was created but even that transit operates within the city of Atlanta and branches out to only two counties- Dekalb and Fulton. There are few connectors between MARTA and other systems such as Cobb County Community Transit (CCT) which operates bus routes between Cobb and downtown Atlanta. These underdeveloped public transportation systems have minimal effect on relieving traffic for the majority of Atlantians, and people are still inclined to drive cars.
In July 2012, local leaders supported a referendum on a special tax for transportation improvement called Special-Purpose Local-Optional Sales Tax, more commonly known as T-SPLOST. Voters were skeptical that the government could successfully carry out the plans so they rejected it. This is just another example of Atlanta choosing to ignore the reason to their economic success.
If Atlanta invested in transportation that would reach all counties and be more accessible to people, it would relieve traffic. If it was around during the snowpocalypse last month, we would see less people sleeping in their cars or stranded at schools overnight. Georgia’s government also could have done a better job in preparing for this snow storm. Gov. Nathan Deal called the storm, “unexpected,” never mind weather reports of the snowfall.
This storm also revealed how ill prepared Atlanta is when faced with a disaster. Hopefully this is a wakeup call to Atlanta’s mayors, county officials and state officials and they start utilizing regionalism instead of refurbishing problems. In the future, we will need to safely and efficiently get around and out of the city besides the means of a car.
In the latest winter storm this past week of February 11-13, the Governor issued a state of emergency much earlier, and people followed the warnings and stayed off the roads. This resulted in far less pandemonium, but Atlanta still lacked any ability to function. With better public transportation, Atlantians could still get to work despite the storm, and the economy would get back up and running within hours, as opposed to days.