MARTA restores two bus routes; more may come soon

MARTA eliminated 70 bus routes last spring amid the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months, it has restored eight of those routes - including two that resumed operation on Saturday.

Credit: Emily Haney

Credit: Emily Haney

On Saturday MARTA took another small step toward normalcy, restoring two bus routes that had been suspended since April amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency resumed service on Routes 12 (Howell Mill and Cumberland) and 116 (Redan Road). They were among the 70 routes MARTA suspended last spring. It increased service most of the remaining 40 routes and added one new route.

MARTA says it took those steps to protect passengers and employees amid a pandemic that has sickened more than 316,000 Georgians and claimed the lives of about 7,000. The more frequent service on the remaining routes allows passengers to spread out on buses – maintaining social distancing.

But the suspension of most bus routes also has taken a toll on metro Atlanta residents who depend on buses to get to jobs, grocery stores and other important destinations.

MARTA has now restored eight of the 70 routes it suspended in April.

“We are currently evaluating the next round of route restorations and should be able to announce a timetable in the next couple of weeks,” spokesperson Stephany Fisher said Tuesday. “A reminder that when deciding on route restoration, we consider current service capacity, essential destinations, ridership levels, vulnerable populations and customer feedback.”

Fisher said there’s no timetable for restoring all bus routes. MARTA officials have said it will take substantial improvement in pandemic conditions for it to safely resume all of its bus routes. They say there aren’t enough buses to provide the frequent service needed for social distancing on all routes.

You can learn more about the suspension and the rationale for it here.

You can learn more about the toll the bus suspension has taken on passengers here.

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