MARTA proposes bus rapid transit line in southwest Atlanta

MARTA has proposed a bus rapid transit line along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta. (Courtesy of MARTA)

Credit: MARTA

Credit: MARTA

MARTA has proposed a bus rapid transit line along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta. (Courtesy of MARTA)

MARTA would build a bus rapid transit line instead of light rail along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta under a proposal unveiled Thursday night.

The line would run in the middle of a 6-mile stretch of Campbellton Road between MARTA’s Oakland City station and the Barge Road park-and-ride lot. It would operate mostly in exclusive bus lanes with limited stops, transit stations and other features designed to mimic a rail line and keep buses moving.

If the MARTA board approves the plan in March, it would become part of a proposed network of bus rapid transit lines crisscrossing metro Atlanta.

Residents appear to be divided on the proposal. About 45% of 938 neighborhood residents MARTA surveyed favored bus rapid transit, while 43% preferred light rail.

Sherry Williams, a neighborhood activist, said longtime residents have waited for rail service in southwest Atlanta for decades. She said rail service would be more permanent, leading to more economic development in the corridor.

“Are you more likely to locate your business on a fixed route or on a nonfixed route?” Williams said.

Williams isn’t the only one crying foul. Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms weighed in Friday,

“Promises made should be promises kept. I pushed for this as a councilmember and again solidified it as mayor,” Bottoms wrote on Twitter. “To now take it away is an insult to SW Atlanta.”

Others welcomed the bus rapid transit proposal.

“I think BRT’s great,” said Nicholas Hess, chairman of a neighborhood planning council. “I’m for something that is just as effective, cheaper and more flexible (than rail). I don’t see a downside, personally.”

The Campbellton line is part of a $2.7 billion Atlanta transit expansion made possible when city voters approved a half-penny sales tax for MARTA in 2016. Two years later, MARTA approved a project list that included 29 miles of light rail across the city, including Campbellton Road. The list also called for bus rapid transit lines, station renovations and other improvements.

Since then, MARTA has been studying Campbellton Road to determine what kind of transit makes the most sense. Last summer it asked neighborhood residents to consider the merits of bus rapid transit versus light rail.

A MARTA analysis found light rail on Campbellton Road would cost $340 million to build and $12.5 million annually to operate. Twelve driveways along the route would need to be closed.

A trip along the full 6-mile route would take just 16 minutes by light rail.

The analysis found bus rapid transit running in the middle of Campbellton Road would be almost as fast as light rail — 18 minutes from one end of the line to the other.

MARTA has proposed a bus rapid transit line along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta.

Credit: Courtesty of MARTA

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Credit: Courtesty of MARTA

The rapid bus line would cost $130 million to build and $4.8 million annually to operate. No driveways would need to be closed. The transit vehicles would run in exclusive bus lanes for 92% of the route, with the remainder traveling in mixed traffic.

The analysis found the bus rapid transit line could open in 2028 — three years sooner than light rail. The line would include nine transit stops, plus 7 miles of sidewalks and 5 miles of bike lanes. MARTA estimates it would serve about 6,000 riders each day.

The Campbellton line would be part of a larger bus rapid transit network across the region. In Atlanta, MARTA plans a similar line along Capitol Avenue, along D.L. Hollowell Parkway and North Avenue, and along Metropolitan Parkway.

MARTA plans bus rapid transit lines in Clayton County and along Ga. 400. Similar lines are under consideration in Gwinnett County and along the top end of the Perimeter.

Eventually, the region’s bus rapid transit network could be more extensive than MARTA’s existing rail network.

MARTA’s Campbellton Road transit line

MARTA will hold another online public meeting on its proposed Campbellton Road bus rapid transit line at 11 a.m. Saturday. You can find more information at