In 2018, the MARTA board selected commuter rail as the best option for the corridor. But that plan fell apart last year when the Norfolk Southern railroad said it would not allow the passenger rail line to use its track.
MARTA said that would mean acquiring nearly 300 business and residential parcels, escalating the cost of a project expected to cost up to $2.4 billion.
Since then, MARTA has been promoting the benefits of bus rapid transit — an enhanced bus service that operates mostly in exclusive lanes and features amenities designed to mimic rail lines. MARTA estimates a rapid bus line along Ga. 54 would cost $572 million.
The agency recently led a Clayton County delegation to Indianapolis to study that city’s rapid bus line. Clayton officials were impressed with what they saw and have urged MARTA to pursue bus rapid transit for the Ga. 54 line.
“It became clear this was a very viable and acceptable solution for this project,” Deputy General Manager Josh Rowan told the planning committee Thursday.
The full MARTA board is expected to consider the proposal Dec. 8. The agency then would begin a detailed environmental study of the project and eventually apply for federal funding. The transit line is scheduled to open in 2030.