A few days in Atlanta is all it takes to realize the serious transportation issues that the city’s residents face. In Atlanta, being stuck in traffic is now a common occurrence, and residents are ignoring the proposal to promote public transportation. On INRIX’s global list of the top ten cities with the worst traffic, the city is ranked ninth. When you consider how much money is lost due to heavy traffic, the phrase “time is money” comes to mind. According to Ludec (2008), Atlanta residents waste an average of 59 hours per commuter per year in traffic congestion. This lost time can be mainly linked to the adverse economic occurrences in the city like loss of financial income, jobs and social engagements. Atlanta’s traffic makes the city unsustainable for business purposes and companies have chosen to relocate, to other cities .Employees’ who are invited to move in the city have dully rejected such proposals. Several attempts such as expanding public roads to ease the traffic congestion have been unsuccessful as well. The only solution that seems likely to bring relief to the Atlanta traffic problem is coming up with an elaborate public transportation system.
Issues of traffic in Atlanta exist as a result of socio-political factors. In the 1950’s, the city experienced an influx of black Americans and people of other races from South America. The habitants of the city were broad-minded on racial segregation allowing its population to settle in different parts of the region along racial lines. The wealthy whites, who were then administrators and business people remained close to the city while other races especially blacks hang around on the peripheries of the city. This would then give rise to suburbs characterized by high population making up the majority of the town workers (Bullard, Johnson, & Torres, 2000).
Consequently, an average of 2.5 million Atlanta workers commutes to work daily in the city. They prefer to personal vehicles as opposed to public transportation. Preference of personal vehicles is accredited to racism that surrounded the Atlanta public transit system during its development. The people responsible for the development of the public transportation never allowed it to reach suburban regions where most of other non-white races lived and worked. Additionally, public transit faces was an inadequate funding from the state. In fact, Atlanta is the only city where the state does not finance its public transportation. The public transportation system only receives is one percent of sales tax.
Every year, the traffic continues to worsen, getting slower, thicker and longer. The sad upshot to this is that the city’s economy is continuing to decrease. Transport poses as a threat to the economic livelihood of the region as the city is attracting a lot of corporate relocations. Atlanta’s traffic is already costing the region loss of fortunes, approximately 2 billion annually. This is in terms of loss of time in traffic and excess fuel consumption. The environmental pollution caused by the massive traffic is already showing its effects as well. Residents are being affected health-wise because of large amounts of vehicle emissions (Friedman, Powell, Hutwagner, Graham, & Teague, 2001). Expanding the roads and making them bigger has proved to be unsuccessful lacking any improvement. However, it has attracted more number of drivers since expansive roads motivate the population to drive more.
The only solution that will help ease the traffic congestion is encouraging public transportation though this will require proper financing, patience, teamwork, innovation, political willpower and good leadership. Meanwhile, there is a need to convince the outskirts areas to take a one city identity and forget the racism behind the development of the Atlanta public transportation. In other words, embrace public transit to help tame the economic threats it possesses to the city. If these strategies are implemented the problem will be addressed effectively. Securing a reliable federal and state funding can help improve and expand the existing public transportation. Funding can be received through taxation of vehicles that access the city which will discourage use of private cars to go to work. The public transportation should be expanded to reach suburban regions to reduce the number of people who travel to work on their cars. State assistance of commuters by slicing the transportation costs to works is likely to increase the number of people travelling. Moreover, reducing the movement of personal cars into the city by creating bus only lanes will encourage public transportation. Lastly, the improvement of infrastructure will be essential to bike and pedestrian lanes within the city.
Ultimately, getting a solution to the traffic problem in Atlanta can significantly minimize the city’s resources. Building better and bigger roads has been unsuccessful, attracting more traffic. The solution lies in the public transport system as this will reduce the number of vehicles accessing the city by a large amount and in the end ease congestion.
Bullard, R., Johnson, G. S., & Torres, A. O. (2000). Sprawl city: Race, politics, and planning in Atlanta. Sprawl city: Island Press.
Friedman, M. S., Powell, K. E., Hutwagner, L., Graham, L. M., & Teague, W. G. (2001). Impact of changes in transportation and commuting behaviors during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta on air quality and childhood asthma. Jama 285.7, 897-905.
Leduc, G. (2008). Road traffic data: Collection methods and applications. Working Papers on Energy, Transport and Climate Change 1.55.