Motorists in metro Atlanta who complain about traffic and the second worst commute in the nation are willing to put their money where their mouth is. They are willing to pay a one percent sales tax to fund buses and trains according to a recent 11-county survey.

Asked if they would support a one percent sales tax to fund a specific list of transportation projects—including rail and bus service—58 percent of 4,123 registered voters in March responded yes.

That support remained much the same across the region and cut across gender, race, age and income levels.

In Fulton County, 57 percent supported the notion and 35 percent opposed it.

Denise Starling, executive director for the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association, termed the results very positive for the BUC local shuttle bus service in Buckhead.

“The BUC showed up on the regional survey ahead of a county system and just behind a regional and another county system,” Starling said. “We were very pleased that it showed up on the regional survey.”

The survey was conducted in March for the Transit Planning Board, a two-year-old board of transportation planners and elected officials charged with developing a transit vision for metro Atlanta and finding ways to fund it. The survey results were released April 24.

The transit board is having public comment sessions on a wide-ranging plan that would nearly double the total dollars spent on transit in the region to $54 billion from now through 2030.

The plan calls for expanding MARTA rail in three directions, blanketing the region with bus lines and adding light rail networks to link spots within the region and connect to cities such as Athens and Gainesville.

The question on the survey about a 1 cent-on-the-dollar sales tax put a time limit on the tax and clearly indicated it would terminate without voter approval to continue it.

— John Schaffner