Fight over Atlanta mass transit raises race issues

Posted at 7:58 PM, Feb 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-17 19:58:00-05

ATLANTA (AP) - A proposal to change the power structure of Atlanta's mass transit system raises Georgia's complicated politics of race.

The tension is evident when comparing the demographics of MARTA riders against those seeking change. Surveys show about three-quarters of transit riders are black. The lawmakers seeking a larger role in decisions for northern Atlanta and its predominantly white suburbs are white.

Rep. Mike Jacobs' bill would keep MARTA's board at 11 voting members but change who appoints some of them. For example, the Fulton County Commission, dominated by black Democrats, now selects its own appointees. The bill would allow a caucus of municipal mayors mostly from majority-white communities to pick two of three MARTA board members from northern Fulton County.

Jacobs denies that race is an issue in his plan.