His remarks came during an appearance at the Rotary Club of Sandy Springs’ weekly lunch meeting at the Hilton Perimeter Suites Monday.
Fjelstul, who replaced Jannine Miller in the post, acknowledged the authority, established in 1998 by the state Legislature, has not fully utilized a lot of its capabilities. Back then in the transportation realm, the two big issues of the day revolved around air quality conformity lapse and congestion.
“The legislation that passed gave GRTA a lot of wide-ranging powers — a large portion of those have not been used,” Fjelstul said. “A lot of those are tools that have been created in case the state or region decides that there’s a need for it as a result of some of the issues that have come out.
“The reason that we got these wide-ranging powers that we’ve really not exercised over time is that we recognize and the state recognizes it’s got to work with all of these partners on a lot of regional issues.”
The authority operates two core businesses: regional commuter transit service and transportation performance management.
The former function’s Xpress coach fleet is designed to provide affordable, “stress-free” commutes for metro Atlantans and improve the capacity of the state’s most congested highways.
“For the most part, the service was set up to deliver folks to Midtown and downtown,” said Fjelstul, also an adjunct professor at Georgia State University.
“It’s a pure economic benefit to employers. Xpress has a broad reach in Georgia. Now we serve 12 counties … but surveys tell us we’re drawing ridership from nearly 40 counties.”