Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, last week led the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 6, creating the Georgia Regional Transit Council (GRTC), which will establish a statewide strategic transit plan to enhance Georgia's transportation infrastructure.
"We are bringing all the relevant stakeholders together to ensure that we maximize our state's resources, making our entire infrastructure safer and more efficient," Cagle said in a Feb. 22 press release. "We are committed to addressing the transportation demands of today, but we must do so with an understanding of what the future infrastructure needs will be several years from now - with the continued breakthroughs in technology."
The strategic plan for GRTC will include a road congestion relief proposal to develop a seamless transportation network with dependable trip times for commuters, additional limited access highways, safety enhancements and plans to adapt to future transportation innovations.
The council will hold public hearings and seek input from professionals in the field of transit services to determine a proper course of action.
"We have to think big and look at the future of emerging transportation technologies," Gooch said. "Options like autonomous vehicles, Uber, Lyft and rideshare should be utilized and made available in rural and suburban counties, as well as metro areas. This council will provide a comprehensive plan for our state to implement 21st century methods of providing first mile and last mile transit options."
GRTC will ensure transit systems are operating at peak efficiency and exceeding the transportation needs of Georgia's citizens.
"It is imperative that we bring together transit authorities and agencies from across the state to work as a unified body," said Sen. Brandon Beach, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "Every citizen in the state of Georgia relies on our transportation infrastructure and networks to move safely in and around our state whether they are going to work or simply running errands."
The GRTC will be made up of three state senators, three state representatives, the GDOT Commissioner, the Executive Director of the State Road and Tollway Authority and the CEO of MARTA along with county commissioner chairs from Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
Additionally, the Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah metropolitan planning organization chairs will serve on this influential council.
SB 6 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.