MARTA plans to build ‘arterial rapid transit’ lines – what are they?

MARTA plans to introduce new types of enhanced bus service in metro Atlanta in coming years. (File photo by Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

MARTA plans to introduce new types of enhanced bus service in metro Atlanta in coming years. (File photo by Jason Getz /

MARTA will host two community meetings this week to gather public input on its plans to build an arterial rapid transit line along Buford Highway.

Which begs the question: What the heck is “arterial rapid transit”? It’s the latest type of transit MARTA is bringing to metro Atlanta.

Currently, public transportation in metro Atlanta generally comes in three forms: MARTA’s heavy rail lines, local bus service and commuter bus service.

Local buses stop frequently and are often stuck in traffic, just like other vehicles. Commuter buses generally travel from the suburbs into major job centers such as downtown and Midtown. Some commuter buses use the region’s growing network of toll lanes, but they also can become stuck in traffic while traveling on other roads.

MARTA is about to break ground on the region’s first “bus rapid transit” line — the Summerhill line in Atlanta. Rapid bus lines are designed to mimic rail service.

Passengers board at stations and pay in advance to speed things up. The vehicles stop less frequently and usually travel in bus-only lanes to keep passengers moving.

MARTA also has plans for bus rapid transit, or BRT, along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta and along the Clifton Corridor from Lindbergh station to the Emory University area and, eventually, to Avondale station. It also plans two BRT lines in Clayton County.

So what is “arterial rapid transit,” or ART? Think of it as “BRT lite.”

Arterial lines will include some of the features of bus rapid transit. The buses will stop less frequently than regular local bus service, and they’ll be equipped with technology that gives them priority at traffic signals. They sometimes use “queue-jumping” lanes that also allow them to cut in front of other vehicles. But they typically operate in mixed traffic.

MARTA plans arterial rapid transit lines along Cleveland Avenue and Metropolitan Parkway in Atlanta. It also plans such a line for Candler Road in DeKalb County.

Now MARTA is seeking public input on plans for an arterial rapid transit line along Buford Highway between its Doraville and Lindbergh stations. If all goes well, the line could open by the end of 2024.

The first meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Latin American Association, 2750 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta.

The second meeting will at 6 p.m. Thursday via Zoom. You can register for the meeting at

For more information on the proposed Buford Highway ART line, visit