MARTA’s expansion wish list includes rail transit along BeltLine

MARTA released a wish list of transit expansion in Atlanta on Wednesday, May 12, 2016. The $2.5 billion proposal would require city voters, who already pay a 1 percent sales tax for MARTA, decide whether to pay an additional half-percent to add more service. Courtesy of MARTA

MARTA released a wish list of transit expansion in Atlanta on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The $2.5 billion proposal would require city voters, who already pay a 1 percent sales tax for MARTA, to decide whether to pay an additional half-percent to add more service. Courtesy of MARTA

MARTA has a draft wish list of what they want to bring to Atlanta – if voters approve a $2.5 billion expansion referendum.

The Board of Directors presented a project list on Wednesday with “potential options” to be presented to the City of Atlanta and then to voters.

Improvements include a light rail transit along the Atlanta BeltLine, bus rapid transit on Northside Drive, heavy rail transit on I-20 West, bus rapid transit on I-20 East and light rail transit on Clifton Corridor.

In addition to adding new lines and services, MARTA wants to rehabilitate seven metro stations and add more rail cars to its existing fleet.

Potential bus changes are also on MARTA’s draft project wish list, including more frequent bus services on routes 12, 49, 51, 55 and 60 and increase service during off-peak hours. MARTA is also exploring circulator routes for the following six neighborhoods:

  • Ashview Heights/Mozley Park
  • Atlanta Medical Center
  • Castleberry Hill
  • Centennial Olympic Park
  • Elmco Estates
  • West Atlanta

Read the full presentation here.

MARTA proposed several bus route changes, including more frequent bus services, increased service during off-peak hours and circulator routes for six neighborhoods (pictured) on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Courtesy of MARTA.

MARTA proposed several bus route changes, including more frequent bus services, increased service during off-peak hours and circulator routes for six neighborhoods (pictured) on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. Courtesy of MARTA.

The $2.5 billion dollar plan is less than MARTA’s initial dream to accomplish an $8 billion expansion with a broader reach in North Fulton and DeKalb County.

The legislation, Senate Bill 369, represents a compromise with GOP lawmakers who opposed an earlier $8 billion plan put forth by Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, that included Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Senate Bill 369 will let city voters, who already pay a 1 percent sales tax for MARTA, decide whether to pay an additional half-percent to add more service. The referendum vote is expected to be held November 8, but may occur November 2017 instead.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he expected more of a focus on light rain transit.

“What I do know is that it’s going to have a much larger light rail component and it’s going to have a good amount of activity along the Atlanta Beltline Corridor,” Reed said. “It is a real opportunity to make real progress around rail construction around the Beltline which many folks said would never happen.”

The mayor gives MARTA some credit for attracting businesses and major companies to the metro Atlanta.

“No serious person can argue the city of Atlanta isn’t getting more than its fair share of new jobs and expansions,” Reed said. “All were driven by proximity to rail and light rail and the desire of millennials to be near rail or light rail.”

In a separate announcement, MARTA announced their proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year: $453.3 million. The budget, to be adopted on June 2, includes completion of the Clayton County bus service, Wi-Fi on buses and rail stations and new buses.

There will also be no fare hike for MARTA in 2017. MARTA’s last fare hike was in 2011, when the fare increased from $2 to $2.50, making it one of the highest in the nation.

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Andria Simmons contributed to this story.


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