Though not faced with the same grid-lock as Atlanta and other metropolitan cities in Georgia, Dawson County has its fair share of transit issues that could benefit from state intervention according to Rep. Kevin Tanner, who was appointed last month as the chair of the House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding.
Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston announced the members of the commission May 25.
The commission was created during the recent legislative session by House Resolution 848 to study Georgia's transit needs and analyze ways for the state to adequately plan and provide for those needs.
"Transit is becoming more and more important to Georgia's future," said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, in a press release. "From congestion relief to economic development, a robust transit network across our state will have long-term benefits for our citizens."
Ralston cited the recent I-85 collapse and rebuild as a recent event demonstrates the importance of transit to the state and its economy.
The members of the commission include six members of the House of Representatives, four representatives of transit systems or counties which provide mass transit, four residents of the state of Georgia and ex-officio appointees.
The four representatives of transit systems or counties which provide mass transit appointed by the Speaker include those from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Chatham Area Transit, Athens Transit System and the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.
Tanner, R-Dawsonville, also currently serves as chair of the House Transportation Committee, to which he was appointed in January.
Tanner said transit tops the list of his priorities because Georgia is expected to grow by 2 million people over the next few years, with much of that growth concentrated in metro counties.
"We've got to find alternatives, which could include light rail, heavy rail, bus systems, express lanes...when people hear transit they automatically think of MARTA, but this includes much more than heavy rail," Tanner said.
There will be some focus on rural counties that have some kind of transit, like Dawson County, which has a small fleet of buses funded by the county and grants.
"Transit options should focus not only on getting people to and from work but to other places like Lanier Tech and adult literacy programs," Tanner said.
The commission's work will continue through the remainder of the 2017-2018 legislative session, as the group will hold six public meetings around the state, including Savannah, Macon, Columbus and Atlanta.
"I'm excited about this group of people who will be serving with me on the commission, both legislators and outside representatives," Tanner said. "We will be travelling throughout the state and talking about transit and an increased role the state should play in transit, through increased funding and governance."
The first meeting will be June 29 in Atlanta at the state capital.