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Middle Georgia is the home to some of Georgia’s biggest attractions and cities. This region holds the Georgia National Fair of Perry, the Southeast’s largest collection of African-American culture, and Fort Valley State University. For an area with a population of approximately 500,000 people, it doesn’t support this number efficiently and effectively. This paper will outline Middle Georgia’s transportation issue, transportation background, and -a proposed resolution.
Plans to Combat Transportation Issues in Middle Georgia In order to dilute middle Georgia’s transportation problems, the GDOT has come up with four different plans.
The needs assessment technical (NAT), transportation assessment management (TAM), GDOT strategic plan, and the state transportation improvement program (STIP) all elaborate on many of the issues across the state of Georgia with a focus on Metro-Atlanta and middle Georgia. Some topics of discussion will include risk management, funding needs, maps, and overall coordination.
NAT’s main focus is to improve service delivery within the area.
This plan has proposed ideas such as using technology to increase the efficiency of public transit; for example, using a card that commuter’s can swipe upon boarding a bus or any public transit vehicle. In addition, if counties work together to inform consumers on public transit, safety, and general information, it will improve customer service as well as customer experience. Being on one accord as a region will make up for minor insufficiencies and provide a better understanding of how consumers can utilize their public transit to its full capacity.
Since there are 15 colleges within 50 miles of Macon, the NAT has suggested the use of college and public school owned vehicles during mid-day hours to not only reduce traffic, but to also increase availability within these congested areas .
Transportation Asset Management (TAM) is used to not only help budget money, but to also improve efficiency when it comes to delivery of services. In order for a TAM plan to work effectively, the DOT uses analyzes three determining factors. The first factor would be the strategic objective, which focuses on the condition levels that are relative to the DOT’s goal. The next factor is how well department-wide performance measures, after analyzing they must asses how the DOT is meeting their goals. Lastly, they must refer to customer feedback with polls to employees, motorist, and/or the public. According to the DOT, “Transportation Asset Management is an integrated, comprehensive and strategic approach to cost-effectively manage Georgia's assets and meet its transportation needs , “ TAM’s key strength is that it is data-driven, and decisions can be supported by the data it uses and generates, as well as by sound engineering judgement.”
In order to perform a Risk Management Analysis, the DOT would first ask a series of questions. For example, how likely will a catastrophic event or hazard occur that could impact the asset? What are the consequences to the asset if a catastrophic event or hazard occurs? What are the impacts to the public if the asset can no longer perform its function? It’s important to consider each of these factors when determining the risk management analysis. Since March of 2016, the risk management analysis has been in full effect. Using this new implementation, it has brought the development of risk profile and preservation priority for the entire NHS.
The risk register from the TAM states two agency risks; project delivery schedules and insufficient/sustainable funding. If the agency fails in project delivery scheduling, it will result in a waste of resources. In order fix that issue, the agency should first determine need for outsourced services, educate project managers on various risks to schedules, and include adequate time for contract negotiation. In comparison, the result of insufficient funding would be a loss of economic activity. In order to fix this issue, the agency can start by communicating with the Georgia General Assembly and monitor the next federal transportation bill.
Many suggest that Middle Georgia mock the public transportation system of that in the metro-Atlanta area to help combat the issue but that theory is a bit far-fetched when there was a long, strenuous process it took the make the public transportation of Atlanta possible. In the early 1950s, residents noticed a problem with local public transportation. The General Assembly implemented the use of the MARTA, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, in 1965, a mass transit system, in larger counties such as Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties. However, there were long-lived problems with this program.
In 1966, it was found that the government never actually contributed any funds to creation of the MARTA thus leading to Georgia voters having to approve a constitutional amendment to permit the state to fund 10 percent of the total cost of a rapid rail system in Atlanta1. Two years later, these same Georgia voters rejected the funding of this program via property taxes. It was put on a hiatus until 1971 when Clayton and Gwinnett later dropped their support. During this time, then-Mayor Sam Massell proposed a new plan for the Metro area residents placing a levied sale tax on the subsidy in the counties of Fulton, Dekalb, and the city of Atlanta.
The General Assembly was forced to approve this plan because no other jurisdiction had a local sale tax option. Later he was granted the legislative approval and then had to persuade the local residents. The journey didn’t stop here. It wasn’t until a year later that the city of Atlanta purchased the Atlanta Transit System. This may seem like an easy fix, but it took a whopping 800 million dollars to in grant support from the federal government to make this dream a reality2. Existing Forms of Public and Private Transportation
Majority of the Middle Georgia area does have a form of public transportation. For instance, Peach, Pulaski, Taylor, and Crawford to name a few are some counties that have a small transit system. These transit systems run Monday-Friday from 8:00-5:00 pm with 4:30 being the latest that a person can be picked up. Residents are only required to pay a fare of $1.00 every step that is made on the bus. And residents must call three days in advance to make an appointment to be picked up3.
Although Ubers and taxis are not considered public transportation, they are available for the many residents of Middle Georgia. Uber driving became popular in Middle Georgia in 2016 although the company has existed since 2009. Some are unaware that the company exists and how to use it. The process is very simple. The company only requires that the app is downloaded, a driver is requested, the driver is then notified that a passenger has required his or her services, and within a few minutes the Uber driver arrives and takes the passenger where he or she needs to go. Also, it is very important to understand that the driver can be selected off preference and the passenger is not subjected to a random pickup. The cost of using an Uber is slightly higher than that of the existing public transportation with fares being $1.00, a $1.75 booking fee with an incentive of $0.12/minute and $0.75/mile. This the minimum fare for a ride would be $6.654.
What Led to Food Deserts Since the closing of major supermarkets such as Kroger on Pio Nono Ave. in Macon and Harvey’s in Fort Valley as well as other surrounding Middle Georgia counties, it has lead to many food deserts. According to Michele Ver Ploeg, an economist from the United States Department of Agriculture, food deserts are defined as areas that are low-income and where there are a lot of people or households that have difficult access to a source of healthy and affordable food5. Nearly 55 million Americans are currently living in these areas. Ver Ploeg noted that the lack of transportation has mainly contributed to the creation of the food deserts. Unfortunately, Georgia is filled with many food deserts. So how can this problem be resolved?
Since there are many deserts around Georgia, this has caused many problems with residents Shon Williams, a resident of Macon, Ga, stated that a $2.49 box of cereal from Kroger usually costs her around $4 to purchase at her nearest convenience store. She also mentioned that convenience stores “…jack up the prices in, well, might as well say it, poor neighborhoods. Black, poor neighborhoods.” She is actually not wrong. According to researchers from John Hopkins University , mostly black neighborhood presented 'a double disadvantage' in supermarket access forcing them to need convenience stores in order to obtain food thus allowing convenience stores to charge ridiculous prices.
To end a food deserts seems like an easy fix; build a supermarket in the area and this would solve the problem. However, that is far from the truth. Michelle Obama implemented a plan that strived to end all food deserts within the next seven years. The plan struggled because researchers found that it wasn’t just the lack of supermarkets that make food deserts a problem, but the eating habits of those in the food deserts. To fix the food desert problem in Middle Georgia, cities should offer a health food store fresh, organic fruits and vegetables that allows these individuals to use their SNAP benefits.
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