MARTA, Atlanta officials eye Los Angeles bus rapid transit system

MARTA and city of Atlanta officials are visiting Los Angeles this week to tour the region’s bus rapid transit network.

It’s a chance for city officials to get a first-hand look at the kind of transit that doesn’t yet exist in metro Atlanta. But it’s on its way.

Recent transit plans for Fulton and Gwinnett counties include bus rapid transit lines. Dekalb County officials, who are completing its own plan, visited Minneapolis-St. Paul last year to tour that region's bus rapid transit network.

Last year MARTA approved an expansion plan for Atlanta that includes 13 miles of bus rapid transit lines. They include the three-mile Summerhill Line, the six-mile Northside-Metropolitan Line and the four-mile Crosstown-Midtown Line. The agency has not announced specific timelines for those projects.

MARTA also has approved plans for a bus rapid transit line from Southlake Mall in Clayton County to College Park station.

Bus rapid transit is like a MARTA line on tires instead of rails. Passengers board at stations, not bus stops. The vehicles make few stops, and they usually travel in dedicated bus lanes or on highway express lanes like the ones that have opened in recent years across metro Atlanta.

But MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker said it's hard to picture bus rapid transit if you've never seen it. That's why the agency has led a series of trips to other communities over the last two years – including a trip to Los Angeles with Fulton County officials in 2017.

“We saw it in Minneapolis. We saw it in Los Angeles,” Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He said the trips are about “getting elected officials and stakeholders to appreciate how investment in a bus corridor can be really impactful.”

You can learn more about plans for bus rapid transit across metro Atlanta – and about what Fulton County officials learned from their Los Angeles trip – here.