A service change notification at the Gwinnett Transit Center with information in five different languages. (Sam Whitehead/GPB News)

Transportation and Diversity

Are Gwinnett’s changing demographics impacting the county’s take on transit?

Gwinnett County has changed in some amazing ways since the 1970s, when the county was first offered a chance to join MARTA.

It’s population has boomed.

According to U.S. Census data, the Gwinnett County’s population experienced a twelve-fold increase between 1970 and 2014. In the same period, the population of the entire United States didn’t even double.

It’s become more diverse.

U.S. Census data says the Gwinnett County was close to 95% percent white in 1970. Just last year, however, the county became majority-minority — only about 41% of the county is white non-Hispanic.

And it’s attitudes on transit have changed.

In 1971, only 20% of Gwinnett County residents voted to join MARTA. In 1990, only 30% of county residents voted to join MARTA. But, according to a 2015 poll from the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, 63% of respondents said they’d support MARTA coming to the county.

I asked the people in my story about these changes. Here’s what they had to say.

Chuck Warbington on how diversity (or the lack thereof) impacted Gwinnett’s 1971 and 1990 votes on joining MARTA:

Alan Chapman on the impacts of changing demographic trends on attitudes on transit in Gwinnett County:

Warbington’s and Chapman’s are just two voices in a much larger story. And the relationship between changing demographics and attitudes on transit are correlational not causal.

But maybe these trends will continue. And maybe, one day, Gwinnett will not only boast diversity in population, but more diversity when it comes to transportation options.

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