As the TSPLOST issue has gained more publicity over the last several months we have been treated to many working examples of the media-as-advocate instead of media-as-reporter.
The coverage seems designed to reinforce the Maven/ARC/Chamber message rather than to examine the facts about the project list objectively.
Things you hear and see repeatedly:
- Atlanta is choked with traffic.
- TSPLOST will fix our congestion problems.
- TSPLOST will fuel Atlanta’s growth.
Things you never hear or see:
- Over 52 percent of the funds go to transit.
- Transit does very little to reduce congestion. The metro region has too little density for transit to work.
- $500 million of the projects are going to fix MARTA’s maintenance backlog, which does nothing for congestion.
- $600 million is going to fund the city of Atlanta’s beltway project, which does nothing for congestion.
- The Citizen Review Panel is a toothless, for-show-only politically appointed body that has no enforcement power.
- ARC’s Chief Planner has stated publicly that the entire project list when completed will not change commute times very much.
The project list and many of the real facts about it are available at www.TrafficTruth.net. The ARC sites overwhelm you with soft data and studiously avoid any real analysis. Some questions a real reporter might ask (and that TLC representatives have asked repeatedly):
- What are the underlying assumptions used in the ARC model to project ridership and increased jobs?
- Where can we find the backup detail to analyze the projected project costs for the projects on the list?
- How much money that was already allocated to these projects will be reclaimed and used for other projects?
- How many of the proposed transit projects will not be completed within the 10-year window?
- How are the ongoing operational costs of the transit projects going to be funded?
The hard truth is that the TSPLOST is a massive tax increase that puts a gusher of funds into organizations that have little real budget oversight, to fund projects that, with only a handful of exceptions, will do little for congestion relief and much to enhance property values for the major developers funding the campaign.
Our news media collectively owes their audience a much more professional investigation and presentation of the hard facts.
Georgia, we can do better than this, and we must.