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New MARTA tech could usher buses through traffic faster

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The traffic-light system is already installed on Buford Highway, and DeKalb County is on deck

Two MARTA buses passing each other.
MARTA buses out in the wild.
James Willamor

Imagine if a stoplight recognized that you were driving its way and politely changed to green to usher you along.

MARTA is test-driving new technology that could do just that for its buses, according to WSB-TV.

The new system, which links with traffic lights and turns them green as buses approach intersections, is already active on Buford Highway, where officials are calling it successful, the news station reports.

The technology was installed along the corridor after the infamous Interstate 85 bridge collapse compelled people to find alternative routes to and from work. (MARTA also boosted its bus service around that time to help ease traffic congestion.)

And in February, thanks to $500,000 in federal money, DeKalb County will begin retrofitting its stoplights with the high-tech system.

Crews will start by bringing the system to lights on Candler Road, MARTA’s seventh busiest bus corridor with roughly 3,000 riders daily, according to WSB-TV. The program is expected to launch in DeKalb in November.

The news comes at a pivotal time for MARTA.

In October, the transit agency’s board of directors approved a list of projects to be funded by the $2.7 billion More MARTA expansion plan.

The More MARTA blueprint calls for, among other improvements, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bus rapid transit initiatives and other bus system upgrades.

And last week, MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker announced his “moonshot” goal of injecting the metro Atlanta area with $100 billion in transit investments over the next few decades.