Board approves new metro Atlanta transit plan

A regional agency Friday approved a $27.4 billion plan to guide development of transit across metro Atlanta.

The plan covers 13 metro counties and could be a first step toward crafting a regional transit system out of a hodgepodge of local services.

“I hope, down the road, when we look back at today’s vote, we see this as a watershed moment for our region,” said Charlie Sutlive, the chairman of the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, which approved the plan by a unanimous vote.

State lawmakers created the agency last year to oversee transit planning and funding in metro Atlanta. Its first plan is a compendium of projects submitted by local governments.

It includes major rail projects such as the Clifton Corridor and the Atlanta Beltline, bus rapid transit lines along the region's highways, and other new bus lines. It also includes improvements to existing service, renovation of transit stations and other projects.

The plan includes 192 projects — including 76 that are likely to seek state or federal transit funding. Sutlive said securing funding for transit projects will be a big focus of the board in coming years.

“Now that we have this regional plan, we’ve got to bring it to life,” he said.

In addition to the transit plan, the agency hopes to find other ways to coordinate service among MARTA and other local transit services. One example: It plans to develop an app that customers can use to plan transit trips across the region.