MARTA eyeing bus rapid transit for Atlanta-area Emory, CDC route


Illustration of Marta bus with speech bubbles
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: MARTA

The highly anticipated and long-delayed transit line serving the CDC and Emory University, one of metro Atlanta’s biggest employment centers, could use rubber tires rather than steel wheels as originally proposed.

Driving the news: This week, MARTA officials said they’ll conduct public meetings to gauge whether bus rapid transit — also called BRT — or light rail should serve the proposed Clifton Corridor route that will run from Lindbergh to Avondale Estates.

  • In other words, to BRT or not BRT. That is the question.

Catch up quick: BRT uses fancy buses that operate mostly in their own rights of way.

  • It is cheaper and faster to build than light rail — think sleek railcars on fixed tracks — but the technology isn’t as proven to spark development along the route.

Details: MARTA officials in 2018 approved a project list that included light rail from Lindbergh to Emory running parallel to tracks owned by CSX.

  • But, thanks in part to discussions with the freight company and an opportunity for federal funding, a MARTA spokesperson said in a statement, the agency is exploring four potential BRT routes in addition to the six light rail routes.

MARTA says it’s “embracing” the technology and plans to open a BRT route connecting Downtown to the Beltline in 2024 and another line in Clayton County.

Flashback: MARTA’s plan to construct BRT along Campbellton Road instead of a light rail line sparked strong pushback from council members and residents who called the decision a bait and switch.

What’s next: Look for details about in-person and virtual public meetings in June and July to voice your opinion.

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