MARTA was busy in 2015. Service expansion, new initiatives and awards were just some of the things that made this year stand out. Here are 10 of the top developments in 2015 to celebrate.
1. MARTA Expands to Clayton County
Clayton County bus service started in March and additional bus routes were throughout the year, making 2015 as the first jurisdictional expansion of the transit system since its inception more than 40 years ago. Commuter rail to Clayton County is still a possibility in the Norfolk Southern right-of-way.
2. MARTA Makeovers
An effort led by Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, the South Downtown MARTA Makeover project gathered feedback from residents and riders on how to improve the appearance and safety of the Five Points and Garnett stations. Be on the lookout for landscape improvements and new station signage and crosswalks. For additional project information and details please contact Wesley Brown at wbrown at atlantadowntown.com or 404-658-5983.
3. Airport Transit Award
The Global Gateway Alliance advocacy group ranked Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as being number one in the United States when it comes to public transportation access. The Airport MARTA station is in the domestic terminal with nearby Delta and Southwest check-in kiosks, or step outside the station to reach SkyTrain and the shuttle to the international terminal.
4. Connect 400
Three high-capacity rapid transit options up the Georgia 400 corridor were studied in 2015: the locally-preferred heavy rail extension from the North Springs MARTA station and two bus rapid transit (BRT) options. At this time, MARTA is completing the environmental assessment, which will be available for comment in 2016. Follow Connect 400 on Facebook for updates or view what the MARTA map would look like with the rail extension. MARTA will also be addressing the Georgia General Assembly in January 2016 to request a tax law change that could help the transit agency raise money for expansion projects.
5. Farmers Markets
The first MARTA farmer’s market launched in July at the West End MARTA station as a collaboration between MARTA, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, SWAG (the South West Atlanta Growers Co-operative) and Community Farmers Markets. In addition to fresh produce just off the train, EBT and SNAP two-for-one were payment options. MARTA plans to add more markets as interest and resources allow.
6. Transit-Oriented Developments
As of December 2015, developers have been chosen to create new live, work and play destinations next to the Avondale, Edgewood/Candler Park, King Memorial, Chamblee and Brookhaven MARTA stations. Curbed Atlanta believes we’ll see construction start at Edgewood/Candler Park first in early 2016. Meanwhile, proposals for Oakland City and Arts Center are also under review. View the latest TOD news online, where you can also sign up for the newsletter.
7. Customer Rewards
MARTA offered free rides on Labor Day to help residents and visitors get to events and try a MARTA commute. Additionally, a new Customer Reward Program in the fall provided MARTA patrons who took 60 to 100 or more trips in a month two to four free round-trip Breeze tickets.
8. CEO Recognition
MARTA CEO Keith Parker received the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of 2015 award by the American Public Transportation Association. This highly prestigious award recognized Parker’s major accomplishments at MARTA and his contributions to the public transportation industry during his two decade career. Read more about how Parker has put Atlanta back on track.
9. Police Escorts
In addition to free self-defense classes, MARTA began offering a police escort program in October. Commuters can text MARTA police at 404-334-5355 or use the courtesy phone at stations for a walk or ride home within a 5-mile radius. See basic MARTA safety tips for additional information and stay turned in early 2016 for our reports on the stations with the most and least crime in 2015.
10. MARTA Army
A grassroots organization separate from the official agency, the MARTA Army launched in 2015 as a citizen volunteer group. Taking actionable steps to make MARTA better, the MARTA Army organizes different volunteer opportunities. Recent projects include bus stop adoption and MARTA employee kudos. Sign up on their website to receive information on how to get involved and follow them on Twitter (@MARTAarmy).