ATL Board adopts regional transit plan

Photo of commuter rail train diesel engine (AJC photo)

Commuter rail trains, like the one pictured above, are planned in Clayton County. (AJC photo)

In a historic moment on Friday morning, the Atlanta Transit Link (ATL) Authority adopted its first regional transit plan. The plan is one of the key objectives charged to the ATL Board after its creation in 2018 by state lawmakers.

The plan includes 192 projects, including 76 that are expected to utilize state or federal funding. The plan includes several well-known proposals like the Clifton Corridor in DeKalb County, Atlanta Beltline, and commuter rail in Clayton County; but also includes a plethora of improved bus routes and system maintenance.

The plan does not commit available funding towards any specific projects nor does it necessarily guarantee that the included projects will be completed. The plan should be considered a vision for improved public transit in metro Atlanta.

Locally, the only project included is the park and ride lot under construction off Jonesboro Road. The project has a total estimated cost of $14.9 million funded through the state.

Public transit has mixed support

Supporters of public transit have made progress in recent years, with additional sales tax referendums passed in the city of Atlanta and Clayton County. Not everyone in the suburbs is onboard though, where a Gwinnett County referendum failed in March. It’s been suggested Gwinnett County could hold another referendum as early as November 2020.

Polling data shows 92.8% of metro Atlanta residents consider transit either “very important” or “somewhat important” to the region. Within Henry County, that number falls to 90.1%, a minor decrease.

The same poll asked respondents their level of support towards paying higher taxes to fund transit operations and expansion. Within the 13-county region, 46% expressed a favorable position towards additional taxes for transit, down from a majority (50.9%) in 2017. In Henry County, 39.5% of respondents were favorable to a transit tax while our neighbors in Butts County showed the lowest support in the region at 26.8%.

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