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Atlanta transit expansion plans will cost billions but are rated B+

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Statistical analysis finds that major investment will be a boon for transit, but it must be done wisely to get the most impact

A MARTA train at Atlanta’s King Memorial Station.
A MARTA train at Atlanta’s King Memorial Station.
Curbed Atlanta

After many decades of underfunding and deplorable state support, transit in the City of Atlanta is gunning for a major boost in the coming years as new income and regional cooperation hint at a bright future.

But with $2.5 billion of expansion on tap, and many billions more possible down the road, most would agree it’s imperative that the money is allocated to projects that will have the greatest impact in the near and long terms.

A wishlist published before the tax votes last year included more than $10 billion in desired new capital projects and operational costs. Prioritizing projects to increase usability and maximize ridership will be key to instilling confidence that the money is being well spent—and ultimately will impact how likely voters will be to approve additional funding in the future.

In a recent piece on Streetsblog USA, merits of the proposed projects—from downtown light rail service to northward heavy rail extensions—are weighed based on their potential impact and service catchment.

via Streetsblog USA

The conclusions demonstrate that focusing on the city core and using the Beltline as the backbone for transit expansion could yield the greatest impact.

Lines stretching across downtown and south from downtown through Summerhill could bring new service to underserved populations who could benefit most from transit access, the numbers suggest.

A chart demonstrating the impact per line-mile of each proposed project.
via Streetsblog USA

Among MARTA’s goals for the expansion are hopes that any new projects will provide more equitable and efficient service, ultimately creating a more livable Atlanta.

Overall, the future looks pretty good for expansion of transit, the article concludes.

Noting the clear goals outlined by MARTA, growing recognition of the importance of transit expansion in the region, and increasing density within the core of the city, Streetsblog USA graded the future plans a “B+.”