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MARTA Seeks Input On Atlanta Expansion Projects

Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax to fund MARTA expansions last fall. Now, the transit agency is figuring out which projects on its expansion list should get the money.
Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax to fund MARTA expansions last fall. Now, the transit agency is figuring out which projects on its expansion list should get the money.
Credit ALI GUILLORY / WABE

MARTA’s trying to figure out how to spend a new half-penny sales tax in the city of Atlanta, and it wants the public’s help.

The transit agency came up with a list of expansion projects, including bus rapid transit and streetcar expansion, before voters approved the tax last fall.

But the list included more than the $2.5 billion expected from the tax could fund.

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So now MARTA’s asking Atlantans which projects they want to happen first. And at a community meeting Thursday, people gave wide-ranging answers.

Jim Backstrom said he knows buses aren’t everyone’s first choice, but that’s where he wants improvement.

“We can increase bus transit,” Backstrom said. “And when you have increased bus transit, people see those buses going by all time, like in New York City, where there constantly going by, you’ll start thinking I can get on a bus.”

Georgia State student Brian Allen already takes MARTA. To get other people to ride, though, he thinks the agency’s best investment will be on new trains.

“I think in the long run, they need to focus more on the heavy rail,” Allen said. “I mean, we are growing so fast. We need a way to get people around because congestion is so bad.”

Meanwhile, Dantes Rameau said he just wants current MARTA trains to be more convenient. He’s in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood.

“The closest station is the West End MARTA station, but it really, it takes 15 minutes to walk there,” said Rameau.

So he’d like to see the agency build more stations along rail lines that already exist.

MARTA said ultimately bus projects are going to happen the fastest. For heavy rail expansion, the agency still needs federal matching funds.

The community meeting was just among the first MARTA’s planning this year. It’ll also be sending out surveys and talking with people at rail stations.

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