House Bill Proposes Passenger Railway Between Atlanta and Macon
The prospect of a passenger train service from Middle Georgia to Atlanta has a lot of people excited about new travel possibilities. The proposal is currently making its way through the general assembly
"I think it would be more convenient because then I wouldn't have to drive," Atlanta resident, Angel Franklin said.
"If they have a train, I think it's a great idea, it's going to serve a lot of people," Macon resident, Hany Atalah said.
Many people said they're in favor of House Bill 306, a proposal to set up a government body to operate and maintain a railway between Bibb County and metro Atlanta. The last time a passenger rail connected the two was in 1971. Over the years there's been talk about setting up another line, but it's never come to fruition. While the idea has popular support, CEO of Georgians for Passenger Rail, Gordon Kenna said it's been lacking leadership from those in government.
"It's not organized at the state level because it isn't funded,” Kenna. “We have to agree that, that's our first priority."
Author of the bill is State Rep. Keisha Waites, D-Atlanta. She is looking at a model with high speed trains to connect Atlanta and Macon which would require the purchase of new land and tracks. In a 2010 report by a Washington think tank, the total capital cost would run about $400 million to have stops between the two cities.
While the proposal needs money to get started, Kenna said everyone at the legislature needs to hop on board with the idea first.
"The barrier is, will the state coalesce the leadership to make this a priority to create a mechanism for funding and create the legal mechanism for contractual agreement with the owner of the railroad," Kenna said.
For now, it is up for debate but if the bill becomes law, some will be looking to get their ticket.
"I'll be using it every time going downtown or visiting Atlanta whether for business or pleasure," Atalah said
The Department of Transportation will update its 2009 review of passenger prospects this May. The last time they did that, a passenger rail between Atlanta and Macon came in third on the policy priorities list.