Judge dismisses lawsuit over suspended MARTA bus routes

MARTA suspended 70 of its 110 bus routes in the spring amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has since restored some routes, though dozens remain suspended. AJC FILE
Caption
MARTA suspended 70 of its 110 bus routes in the spring amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has since restored some routes, though dozens remain suspended. AJC FILE

A Fulton County judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to force MARTA to restore bus routes suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.

In April the agency suspended 70 of its 110 routes and provided more frequent service on most remaining routes. The idea was to encourage social distancing among passengers on the remaining routes, which served MARTA’s busiest corridors and key destinations such as hospitals and job centers.

While MARTA has restored some routes, dozens of routes remain suspended. And many metro Atlanta residents who depended on the suspended routes say it’s difficult to get around.

DeKalb County resident Ed Williams, a government watchdog, filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court seeking to force MARTA to restore the routes. He argued that CEO Jeffrey Parker lacked the authority under state law to suspend the routes without a public hearing and the approval of the MARTA board of directors.

MARTA argued that Parker does have the authority to make temporary changes to address emergencies such as the pandemic.

On Friday, Judge Shukura Ingram granted MARTA’s motion to dismiss Williams' lawsuit. Williams said he plans to appeal the ruling.

“During this unprecedented time, MARTA stands by our decision to prioritize the safety of our customers and employees," the agency said in a statement released Friday night. "MARTA is committed to providing access to essential transit service while protecting public health.”