Transit Referendum Placed on November Ballot
– July 21, 2020
The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on July 21, 2020, approved placing a 1 percent sales tax to fund a wide range of transit projects on the November 3, 2020, ballot. This is a new sales tax created by action of the state legislature in 2018 to fund transit, and the Gwinnett County referendum will be the first one proposed under this new tax.
If approved by voters, the Transit Special Purpose Local Option Sales and Use Tax would run for 30 years and fund 82 transit projects that include premium high capacity services bus rapid transit (BRT) and arterial rapid transit (ART), enhanced and expanded coverage of the county by both local bus and express commuter bus service, on-demand micro-transit, and paratransit service. The proposed transit plan also features an extension of heavy rail from Doraville to Jimmy Carter Boulevard, subsidies for vanpools and transportation network companies, and funds to improve pedestrian connectivity to transit services.
The Board of Commissioners developed the list of projects with input from the Gwinnett County Transit Review Committee (TRC). The Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (The ATL), which coordinates and oversees transit planning in metro Atlanta, then approved the list.
“By 2050, Gwinnett County is projected to have 1.5 million residents. This growth will require a range of options that enhance mobility, including more robust transit choices,” said Board Chairman Charlotte Nash. “We've listened to input from our residents and our businesses, and the Board of Commissioners and staff have given a lot of thought to this list of projects. We believe this plan's broad range of projects will best position Gwinnett for future mobility success.”
Under the referendum, the County would design and construct the transit projects; it would also operate and maintain the transit system except for the heavy rail extension, which MARTA must operate as stipulated by state law. In addition to the sales tax provided in the referendum, federal and state dollars and fare box collections would help fund the proposed transit projects over 30 years.
In fall 2019, the Board of Commissioners formed the Gwinnett County Transit Review Committee. This 13-member committee, which was comprised of residents representing a range of interests and perspectives, analyzed previous planning efforts to develop a new plan. The Board of Commissioners reviewed the TRC plan as well as other proposals – including a plan without a heavy rail component – to develop a list of projects to submit to the ATL, which allowed for this call for a sales tax referendum.
The transit plan on the 2020 ballot differs from earlier plans in the following ways:
• Outlines a more aggressive, first 10-year implementation strategy
• Adds more local bus routes – including routes in Lilburn, Sugar Hill and Suwanee/Buford – while also shortening wait times for local bus service
• Increases regional connectivity, including routes to Alpharetta, Stonecrest and Athens
• Adds a BRT route to the Mall of Georgia
• Increases paratransit coverage throughout the county
The list of projects includes:
• BRT projects to create a network of frequent, reliable transit service through the construction of dedicated lanes and high-quality stations; projects include connections between a proposed multimodal hub at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and the Sugarloaf Park-and-Ride lot, Lawrenceville and Peachtree Corners (including connections to Georgia Gwinnett College and Gwinnett Tech), and Snellville and the Indian Creek MARTA Station in eastern DeKalb County as well as between the Infinite Energy Center and the Mall of Georgia
• A network of complementary ART bus projects that incorporate some elements of BRT at a lower cost, such as queue-jumper lanes and transit signal priority for vehicles to provide enhanced transit service
• Local bus projects that improve the existing network as well as create connections to the high capacity transit backbone of the system (heavy rail, BRT, and ART)
• Projects that result in robust expansion of the express commuter bus system, providing rides from park-and-ride lots throughout the county to major employment centers in Downtown/Midtown Atlanta, Buckhead, Perimeter, Emory/CDC, and Athens; these routes are further supplemented by new all-day service that provides access to park-and-rides from MARTA rail stations
• Regional connectivity projects across all modes to existing/planned transit investments in north Fulton County, eastern and southern DeKalb County, and Hall County
• Micro-transit projects that enable residents within designated areas of Gwinnett to request an on-demand ride either within this specified zone or to connect to nearby transit service
• Expansion of paratransit services throughout the county to provide transportation services for those with mobility challenges
• Numerous complementary capital investments, including new and improved transit centers and park-and-ride lots
• Project funding to support supplementary vanpool and ridesharing services, technology upgrades across the network, and improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to increase transit accessibility
• Project funding to improve existing bus stops as well as to construct new bus stops with high-quality amenities, such as shelters, lighting and real-time signage
• Projects to maintain a state-of-good-repair for the transit system, including construction of a new maintenance facility and replacement/upgrade of transit vehicles at the end of their useful life
View the resolution and list of transit projects here.