Georgia is one of just nine states that does not provide any operating assistance to its public transit operators. Of the ten most populated states, not only is Georgia the only state not providing operating assistance to transit, it also only provides $.60 (down from $.72 in 2003) per capita for direct financial assistance to public transportation. Our neighbor to the South, Florida, by contrast spends $5.49 per capita, and New York spends the most with $91.88 per capita.
The State of Georgia does provide matching funds for Federal Capital and Planning projects. However, declining Federal operating assistance coupled with restrictive state constitutional restrictions on transportation-related user fees have pitted transportation systems and local communities in a struggle for scarce local funds, often generated by unpopular property taxes. The lack of stable sources of funds for transit systems translates into decisions to raise fares and cut services, resulting in a loss of ridership and the self-perpetuating loss of local support.
Our mission is essential to the future health of public transportation in Georgia is the development and promotion of legislative agendas by the GTA. Quality of life, environmental concerns, economic development and personal mobility options are issues that can be greatly enhanced in this state by a balanced approach to transportation investment. The GTA supports consideration of a statewide infrastructure fee which could be used for all modes of transportation, including local streets and roads, sidewalks, bikeways and transit.