MARTA CEO tells Congress transit funding will boost key projects

MARTA interim CEO Collie Greenwood testifies to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Tuesday.

Credit: David Wickert

Credit: David Wickert

MARTA interim CEO Collie Greenwood testifies to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Tuesday.

The bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden last fall will bring an estimated $923 million for public transportation to metro Atlanta, and the region’s largest transit agency was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to say “thank you.”

MARTA interim CEO Collie Greenwood testified at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the bipartisan infrastructure law’s impact on public transportation. Among others, he thanked the Georgia Congressional delegation for helping pass the bipartisan infrastructure law, which he said could aid several expansion projects in Atlanta and Clayton County.

“Our leadership team here at MARTA is confident that the passage of this law will contribute to sustained growth of MARTA, as we expand in cost-effective and practicable ways with the support of the Federal Transit Administration,” he told the committee.

Greenwood singled out several projects he hopes will benefit from the new federal funding:

*The $338 million Southlake bus rapid transit line in Clayton County, which will connect College Park station to Southlake Mall.

*The $300 million Campbellton Road bus rapid transit line in southwest Atlanta, which would connect Oakland City station to Greenbriar Mall.

*The $150 million redevelopment of Five Points station.

Greenwood said he’s “very proud of the progress that we’ve made in the Atlanta region, including the very challenging circumstances while we continue to provide service during the ongoing pandemic.”

At Tuesday’s hearing Sen. Jon Ossoff paid tribute to former MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker, who died by suicide in January.

“Jeff championed MARTA. He championed accessible public transportation in the state of Georgia,” Ossoff said. “He created an expansive vision for transit in metro Atlanta. He leaves a tremendous legacy that Collie will now continue.”

Not everyone at the hearing was happy about the infrastructure bill’s massive investment in public transportation. Sen. Patrick Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, decried the vast expansion of funding when transit ridership was declining even before the pandemic.

“Some estimates predict (ridership) will never return to pre-pandemic levels,” Toomey said. “Why give away still more taxpayer money to agencies serving fewer riders?”

You can read more testimony from the hearing here.