Georgia budget includes $6 million to rehab MARTA station

It’s not much in the scheme of the $27.2 billion state budget Georgia lawmakers approved Wednesday. But MARTA officials hope a $6 million appropriation for one of their stations is a sign that state funding for public transportation has a future.

The money will help pay for the $50 million rehabilitation of MARTA’s Bankhead rail station. The project will support the new Microsoft campus at Quarry Yards in Atlanta announced in February. Microsoft said access to transit was a key consideration in its decision to build the campus.

It’s the first time the General Assembly has approved a budget item specifically for MARTA. The agency hopes it isn’t the last.

“I believe that having the state of Georgia partner with us to make the changes needed at Bankhead station to support Microsoft will lead to a long and mutually beneficial relationship that will support continued economic development in our region and more mobility for residents and visitors alike,” MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker said in a statement late Wednesday.

Lawmakers also approved separate legislation dedicating money from a ride-hailing fee approved last year to public transportation projects. That fee is expected to generate up to $40 million annually for transit projects.