MARTA to pursue BRT for Clayton County

Nov. 18, 2022
The updated BRT-only Locally Preferred Alternative will better match Clayton County commuter preference to have all-day, frequent transit service.

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will advance a bus rapid transit (BRT) option for its expansion into Clayton County.

MARTA Board of Directors Planning and Capital Programs Committee, with the support of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, the City Councils of Jonesboro, Forest Park, Lovejoy, Riverdale, and Lake City and the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, updated the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for State Route 54 in Clayton County from commuter rail to bus rapid transit (BRT).

The planned 22-mile BRT on State Route 54 will include 17 proposed stops and connect East Point rail station to Mountain View, Forest Park, Clayton State University, Jonesboro, the Clayton County Justice Center and Lovejoy in Clayton and East Point and Hapeville in Fulton County.

MARTA says the plan is for State Route 54 BRT to complement Southlake BRT to provide a seamless transit connection for people in Clayton, while ushering in economic development.

Earlier this year, Clayton Southlake BRT advanced to the Project Development phase of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s Capital Investment Grant Program as a Small Starts Project.

“We appreciate the flexibility and support of Clayton County leaders to pivot to best meet the transit needs of the people of Clayton,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “We recently traveled to Indianapolis with the Clayton delegation and saw first-hand the benefits of BRT and how it makes more sense for this transit corridor and will provide faster, more frequent service at a much lower cost.”

State Route 54 BRT is estimated to cost $572 million (in 2022 dollars) to build, requiring less right-of-way access and reducing construction impacts to residents and businesses. It can be built in half the time as that of commuter rail and once completed operates at a higher frequency, providing service all day rather than just during peak commute times.

A two-pronged LPA was adopted by the MARTA Board in 2018 that utilized BRT in the western part of Clark County to connect College Park Station to Southlake Mall and commuter rail along the Norfolk Southern Corridor.

MARTA explains the commuter rail option encountered a variety of obstacles with right-of-way acquisition, environmental and historical resource concerns, along with a ballooning cost estimate. Clayton County customers indicated all-day, frequent transit service was preferred. This preference is inconsistent with commuter rail service that offers only one-way service during peak commute times. In consultation with key stakeholders, BRT emerged as the preferred high-capacity transit option for State Route 54.

At the November meeting of the MARTA Board of Directors, Clayton County leadership offered their full-throated support of BRT along State Route 54. The MARTA Board will vote on the LPA at its monthly meeting on Dec. 8.

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