With more Atlantans heading back to workplaces, attending local events and booking summer vacations, MARTA is ready to ride.
The transit operator has been engaged for many months in infrastructure repairs and deep cleaning at stations. MARTA partnered with Delta Air Lines earlier this spring to get Georgians to mass vaccination sites. And service on 58 previously suspended bus routes was restored in late-April, including frequency adjustments to match ridership demand.
But that’s only part of the story as more of us return to public life and consider where transit trips fit in. Here’s a quick rundown of what else MARTA has been working on recently to get you on board again:
New Digital Trip Information Screens Installed
On your next visit to a MARTA station, look out for one of the 326 new display screens showing info on arrivals and departures. The monitors are installed both inside and outside the turnstiles to help riders plan their trips with real-time updates.
New Rail Cars on Order … and You Can Inform the Design
MARTA entered a contract to purchase 254 rail cars from Stadler US for $646 million. This project represents the single largest procurement for either organization, and a milestone in MARTA’s capital improvement program for a better customer experience. The first of those new cars will arrive in metro Atlanta in 2023. MARTA recently fielded a survey asking the community and MARTA riders what features the next-gen rail car interiors should include. And in the coming months, the public will be asked for input on exterior features of the new rail cars.
More Resources to Ensure Rider Safety
MARTA's approach to safety involves many layers that riders might not know about:
- For example, the agency operates more than 40,000 cameras on its buses and trains and inside and outside its transit stations.
- And the MARTA Police Department employs some 300 Police Officers and Protective Specialists that patrol the stations, and ride buses and trains in high visibility uniforms to deter crime and respond to incidents quickly.
- In addition, MARTA PD also deploys plain clothes officers who patrol the system, so security is there even when riders aren’t aware.
Stepping Up with Solutions to Help Address Homelessness
MARTA is taking on a new endeavor to help address the citywide issue of homelessness. The agency is partnering with HOPE Atlanta, Gateway Center and the Regional Commission on Homelessness on a pilot project to assist unsheltered people who ride MARTA. MARTA police and case managers traverse the system and engage people who need help, referring them to supportive services.
Events and Activities at Stations Coming Back
The Artbound program is gearing up for a limited return starting in June, with musicians playing at select locations. Performers will still be wearing face masks until the federal mandate ends, which means no horns or singing for now. In addition, the MARTA Fresh Markets are back on market day as applicable through December. The markets put access to locally grown food in the hands of transit riders, which can save a trip to the grocery store.
Looking Ahead: Funding Breakthrough in MARTA’s Relationship with the State
It is widely known that Fulton and DeKalb counties - and more recently Clayton County - have shouldered the entirety of operating and capital expenses as the regional transit system has grown. State funding has never factored in. Until now. For the first time ever in MARTA’s nearly 50-year history, the State of Georgia has approved a line item in the 2022 budget that will fund physical improvements.
The revenue vehicle is a new $.50 fee on for-hire-ground-transportation trips that the State will manage in a trust fund. With this shot in the arm from the State, the plan is to create increased capacity and access at Bankhead station as well as potential transit-oriented development.
“We believe the FY22 budget and line item for MARTA are a strong start to the new chapter in the story of MARTA and the State of Georgia,” MARTA general manager Jeffrey Parker said in a press release.
What to Know Before Your Next Trip on MARTA
Federal mask mandates remain in place for every rider, whether or not you’re fully vaccinated. This means masking up while waiting inside stations, and while riding buses, trains, and streetcars. MARTA now provides disposable masks and hand sanitizer at stations.