MARTA focusing on bus rapid transit rather than more expensive light rail | Georgia

(The Center Square) — The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is advancing bus rapid transit for the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative Project.

“Atlanta is not known for its mass transit system,” Wes Guckert, president & CEO of The Traffic Group, a site visitors engineering company, instructed The Center Square by means of electronic mail. “With more than 75% of the city’s six million residents driving to and from work, it should come as no surprise that Atlanta is tied for second worst place in the nation when it comes to using public transit to get to and from work.

“But, to its credit, town is attempting to construct a transportation community,” Guckert added.

According to MARTA, in fiscal 2022, the agency’s sales tax revenues reached an all-time high of $665 million. Additionally, sales tax revenues for the first six months of fiscal 2023 are up 9.1% over last year, and the agency expects the numbers to hit $708.4 million this year.

MARTA reported 10 consecutive years of operating surpluses and a $729 million reserve balance for the fiscal year end of 2022.

“As shuttle patterns and ridership calls for proceed to adapt within the post-pandemic and work-from-home generation, and as public transportation turns into central to sustainable city building, Bus Rapid Transit provides the versatility and potency that each towns and passengers need to see,” Amos Haggiag, CEO and co-founder of the Volvo-backed public transit planning and services software platform Optibus, told The Center Square via email.

“Buses be offering the versatility and accessibility that passengers want, now,” Haggiag said. “And BRT makes the device even more efficient, eliminating the site visitors jams that purpose delays for buses and that lower religion in public transportation. BRT will even cut back the weight on public investment and be a lot sooner to put into effect. That’s any other necessary issue: Cities want public transportation and so they want it now.”

MARTA has scrapped its light rail plans for the Clifton Corridor line in favor of BRT.

“BRT is smart for this hall, offering speedy, environment friendly transit in devoted bus lanes,” MARTA Assistant General Manager of Planning Shelley Peart said in an announcement.

“More and more transit growth tasks around the nation are taking into consideration BRT because of its talent to supply rail-like provider more temporarily, with much less have an effect on, and at a decrease capital price,” Peart added. “Those options give a boost to the undertaking’s general ranking and subsequently its competitiveness for federal investment, which we’ve identified since this undertaking’s inception can be vital to its final touch.”

The Atlanta area once had a robust transit network, but 75 years ago, the lines shuttered, replaced by new forms of transportation: Automobiles. Critics have criticized the cost of MARTA’s plan to spend more than $1 billion to expand its system and replace its aging fleet of railcars.

“We see a success examples of BRT world wide, many in Latin America, such because the BRTs of Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba in Brazil. But additionally in Canada and around the United States,” Haggiag said.

“Atlanta must get more folks on public transportation and out in their automobiles,” Haggiag said. “So, when fascinated with what kind of plan will succeed in that, potency of services and products and simplicity of use for passengers should be on the middle. That’s what’s going to create a public transit device that passengers in fact use, rather than a device that merely ticks the packing containers.”

Is this the right decision for the people of Atlanta?

“A couple of issues to imagine ahead of answering this query,” Guckert said. “To get started, it can be crucial to check out how running from domestic has modified mass transit utilization over the last few years. The call for to paintings remotely no less than one or two days every week right away cuts ridership. Transit ridership around the United States has observed a threefold lower for the reason that pandemic.”

MARTA estimates the cost for its BRT plan should cost between $670 million and $870 million. For comparison, MARTA said a light rail alternative would cost between $2.1 billion and $3.1 billion.

“Given the entire cases, Atlanta is making the suitable choice to center of attention on BRT, which objectives to mix the capability and velocity of a light rail or metro device with the versatility, price and ease of [a] bus device,” Guckert said. “Comparatively, BRT is usually $20-$50 million in step with mile — a lot much less expensive than light rail.

“Using the 80-20 Rule, BRT often can cost 20 percent of a light rail system but can capture 80-85 percent of light rail riders,” Guckert added. “This doesn’t mean anyone is trading quality for cost. A BRT solution has all the amenities of modern rail, such as Wi-Fi, level boarding, and off-vehicle payment systems. BRT is flexible: it can ride on dedicated lanes, but has the ability to leave those lanes and take another route if necessary. Rail, by contrast, cannot switch routes once constructed.”

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