Nov 9, 2021 - News
MARTA's rebooting its bus routes and wants your advice
Illustration of Marta bus with speech bubbles
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: MARTA

MARTA’s hard-working yet underappreciated bus system is in the middle of a long-overdue redesign that could greatly expand the transit agency’s reach — or shorten riders’ trips. But there’s a trade-off.

Driving the news: Today MARTA starts hosting the first of four meetings to present two opposing scenarios to the public and collect community feedback.

  • Atlanta’s bus network hasn’t significantly changed in decades, CEO Jeff Parker told Atlanta Magazine earlier this year.
  • Consider all the transportation system expansions, development pattern changes and new ways to get around like Uber, Lyft, scooters and more bike lanes.

Plus, transit officials must revisit how MARTA can best serve metro Atlanta after posting a 50% drop in passenger trips during 2020.

Why it matters: Roughly 500,000 people ride MARTA buses every week to jobs, school or medical appointments or to run daily errands.

Do you want buses to take you to more places in the city and region? Or do you want the bus to come by your stop more frequently?

  • Without substantial investment, we can’t have both, so MARTA officials and the public must find the right mix of frequency and coverage.

The details: For the past year, Jarrett Walker and Associates, a Portland, Oregon-based planning firm that’s retooled bus networks in cities from Raleigh to Reykjavik, has crunched data and surveyed the most efficient routes.

Now come the two opposing scenario presentations, which MARTA has stressed are just ideas to "generate dialogue and debate." MARTA expects the board to adopt the final plan and make the changes later next year.

Get involved: The first two meetings are today, from 11am to 12:30pm, and 6pm to 7:30pm at the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA on Campbellton Road.

  • MARTA officials will hold additional meetings on Thursday evening in downtown Decatur and Saturday morning in Dunwoody. Additional virtual meetings are scheduled for December.
  • If you’re interested, you can show up in person or watch live on MARTA’s YouTube channel.

Thomas’ thought bubble: Give us some dedicated lanes and time buses to arrive roughly around the same time as the trains, and the “MARTA doesn’t go anywhere” argument could lose a lot of strength.

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