1,000 MARTA bus stops to get shelters, benches

MARTA plans to add shelters, benches and other amenities to 1,000 bus stops across Atlanta and three metro counties over the next five years.

The agency would improve 200 stops in the coming year under a proposal to be considered by the MARTA Board of Directors next week. Fifty-seven Atlanta bus stops would get the amenities during the first year, with improvements also going to Fulton (57 stops), DeKalb (56) and Clayton (30) counties.

MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker said the new shelters and benches are a part of a broader effort to enhance the riding experience for the agency's customers.

“It’s critically important that our patrons see new amenities, particularly on the bus side,” Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “We’ve been talking for years about installing bus shelters.”

MARTA has 9,553 bus stops across Atlanta and the three counties it serves. Only 1 in 10 has amenities such as shelters and benches.

The board will consider awarding a $7.1 million contract to Tolar Manufacturing to produce amenities for 1,000 stops. If it’s approved, the company would produce shelters, benches, leaning rails, trash cans, solar-powered lighting and cases for schedules and maps.

MARTA must award a separate contract to install the amenities.

The agency plans to add improvements at 200 stops during the first year, beginning in August. They’ll be selected from among stops with at least 25 boardings a day, a MARTA official told a board committee last week. Other factors — such as whether stops are near senior citizen centers and input from local governments — also will help determine the locations.

The plan drew cautious support from community activist Sherry Williams, the public policy coordinator for the group Georgia STAND-UP. She wants more information about which stops will see the improvements and whether they will benefit customers who need them the most.

“But any addition of amenities to bus stops is welcome in communities with heavy ridership,” Williams said.