Livable/Sustainable

Published on January 7th, 2015 |

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BATMA programs morph into Livable Buckhead Inc. in 2015

The Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association—mostly known in the community by its acronym BATMA and through the BUC shuttle—will cease to exist as an organization in 2015, its mission and projects becoming part of the operations of Livable Buckhead Inc. (LBI).BATMA logo2

Since its inception in 1997, BATMA’s mission has been to provide relief to commuters, residents, and visitors traveling to and within Buckhead. That mission will continue under the same leadership, but under a different umbrella organization a 501c3 entity.

And, its program success stories are expected to continue to mount up under the new LBI structure even though the BATMA brand will fade away and all BATMA programs become programs of LBI.

BATMA has worked cooperatively with community and regional partners to improve mobility, accessibility and air quality in Buckhead by sponsoring programs and providing incentives to encourage commuters to take transit, carpool, vanpool, telework, bike and walk to work.

Livable Buckhead logoBATMA, with a theme of “keeping Buckhead on the move”, has been a successful partnership of private businesses, public agencies and residential and civic associations within the Buckhead community.

Under the direction of Executive Director Denise Starling and the support of the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID), BATMA over the past 17 years has successfully focused on four goals:

• Stimulate the development and implementation of alternative commute options programs with Buckhead employers, properties and neighborhood residents.
• Develop, promote and implement employee commute options that reduce traffic congestion, decrease carbon emissions and improve air quality.
• Foster relationships with a broad range of community interest groups.
• Shape the development of community infrastructure to improve mobility to and within Buckhead.

One of the BUC shuttle drivers stands ready to ride commuters to their destinations.

One of the BUC shuttle drivers stands ready to ride commuters to their destinations.

Starling told BuckheadView, “During the 2000-2013 time period, BATMA brought in over $16 million of outside direct investment – dollars that otherwise would not have come to Buckhead. This does not include any of the PATH400 money raised lately – it is strictly BATMA funding.”

Here are some of the startling recent statistics of successes recorded by the programs that have been spearheaded by BATMA which Starling reported in the past month to both the boards of Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Community

Improvement District:

Through sister organization BATMA, LBI now has developed 56 employer partners, 33 property management firm partners and over 3,000 regular commuters.

The vanpool program has grown to 11 vans, with a mixed fleet of full-size and mini vans. The impact of that program is 87 total riders with 10 new riders added in 2014, one new vanpool added in 2014 and an estimated 620,160 vanpool miles traveled.

The Buckhead CID committed $120,000 to the program in its 2014 budget of which the estimated expenditures were $77,140, leaving $42,860 to be de-committed, according to Starling’s report.

LBI Executive Director Denise Starling discusses programs with LBI board chair Bob Stoner during a recent meeting.

LBI Executive Director Denise Starling discusses programs with LBI board chair Bob Stoner during a recent meeting.

Starling reported that the typical annual results of the vanpool program is the reduction of 18,090,892 vehicle miles traveled and the reduction of 30.022 tons of emissions.

Starling reported that the passed on savings in dollars totaled $1.66 million. That breaks down as MARTA discounts of $76,475, the vanpool subsidy of $77,140 and direct commuter savings, based on mileage of $1,568,132.

To put it all in a common man’s perspective, Starling told the LBI and CID boards the savings of vehicle miles traveled equates to 729 trips around Earth or 282,053 trips around I-285 and the reduction in emissions equals that of six adult elephants.

But there is likely an even brighter future moving forward with the re-organization.

Starling said the transition of the organizations was undertaken for two main reasons:

The LBI board views a Power Point presentation during a recent meeting.

The LBI board views a Power Point presentation during a recent meeting.

“First, we wanted to expand our platform of programming beyond transportation because there were so many things not getting done in the community that were more quality of life/sustainability based, and

“Second we wanted to diversify our funding base and bring more investment to the community from outside sources.”

In order to do this, Starling told BuckheadView, “We needed to be a different kind of nonprofit organization to be eligible for foundation funding. We were a 501c4 under BATMA and are now a 501c3 under Livable Buckhead,” she added.

“The c3 designation is a charitable organization which is the only thing most foundations can contribute to. Technically, we could have morphed BATMA into the new entity, but it was cleaner (from an accounting and IRS viewpoint) to do it the way we did,” Starling explained.

“I am thrilled that we went about it this way and honestly love the expanded role we are able to play and the way we can better complement the CID. And, I love the reinvigorated board of directors,” she stated.

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