Cobb County officials still have no idea how much the highway upgrades needed for the new Atlanta Braves stadium will cost, but if there’s one thing they’re dead set on, it’s that they won’t spend a dime to extend an express bus service to the stadium:
Commissioners Bob Ott, Lisa Cupid and Helen Goreham say they do not support county Chairman Tim Lee’s proposal to use special purpose local option sales tax dollars to partially fund the transit system.
Lee has said $100 million of the $494 million cost of the bus-rapid transit system could be paid for out of a new special purpose local option sales tax, were voters to renew the tax in a November referendum.
The special purpose local option sales tax — which, yes, is known by the priceless acronym SPLOST — allows counties to raise local sales taxes by a percent or two and then use the proceeds for roads or other public projects. The current iteration expires in 2015, and Cobb County commissioners want it known that if it’s renewed, none of this cash should go toward those demon buses:
“What I’ve seen so far I can’t support, because I don’t think it solves the traffic problems, and I think it’s a huge sum of money,” Ott said. “I believe it’s more geared toward economic development than solving the traffic problems.”
Cupid also cited the large cost as the reason for her opposition.
“As of right now, I am not supportive of including BRT on the SPLOST project list due to its exorbitant cost and limited reach to persons who depend on transit,” Cupid said.
Bus rapid transit is a contentious idea in the transportation world, with some calling it a cheap way of providing mass transit, and others saying it’s just throwing a lot of money at fancy buses. In the case of a suburban area like Cobb County, it’s undeniably about economic development rather than easing traffic — the whole point is to let more people get in and out of your county — though half a billion dollars does seem pricey, depending on how many people it would actually serve. Maybe if it helped reduce the need to spend on more highway capacity to get fans to and from Braves games … but shh, we’re not allowed to talk about that.