ACTION ITEM

Improve Transit & Non-Single Occupant Vehicle Options

Transit is a critical part of metro Atlanta’s transportation network and is playing an increasingly important role in attracting economic development. Expanded transit options, including bus and rail, are needed to improve mobility in metro Atlanta and help ensure that the region remains economically competitive with a high quality of life.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan details the investments, programs, and strategies needed to create a truly regional transit network that provides better access to jobs and essential services while reducing congestion and improving air quality.

And new opportunities for transit expansion in the region are now available with the establishment of the Atlanta-region Transit Authority, which is charged with planning and coordinating existing and future transit service for a 13-county area.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan acknowledges we can’t build our way out of congestion. No region can. In many ways, congestion is a byproduct of a healthy economy.

But that doesn’t mean things can’t improve. A balanced approach can make a real difference. The Atlanta Region’s Plan presents a five-point plan for improving mobility in metro Atlanta:

  • A network of Express toll lanes
  • Expanded transit options
  • Road and interchange improvements
  • Increased bike-ped options
  • Alternative commuting options like carpooling and teleworking.

The Atlanta region is moving forward on all of these fronts. Indeed, billions of dollars are being invested over the next few years to improve metro Atlanta’s transportation network.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

EXPANDING THE REGION’S TRANSIT NETWORK

Transit services – including bus, rail and streetcar – provide environmentally sustainable transportation options with reliable travel times that help people access jobs and essential services. Transit plays an important role in attracting economic development, with a growing number of employers choosing to locate offices near major transit stations.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan commits $11.4 billion for transit expansion projects. Most of these projects are programmed in the later years of The Atlanta Region’s Plan’s 20 plus planning horizon. The timing could be accelerated if additional local funding sources are found, such as a dedicated sales tax for transit. The cost to implement these projects would also be reduced considerably as a result.

Key Transit Expansion Projects

Details: MARTA Red Line Extension along Ga. 400 to Holcomb Bridge Road

Cost: $1.29 billion*

* If constructed today

Details: Light rail service connecting Lindbergh Center and Emory University and the Clifton Corridor area that includes the Centers for Disease Control.

Cost: $1.74 billion*

* If constructed today

Details: MARTA Blue Line extension from Indian Creek rail station along I-285 and I-20 to Wesley Chapel Road

Cost: $1.46 billion*

* If constructed today

Details: High-frequency commuter rail service from East Point MARTA station to Jonesboro.

Cost: $300 million*

* If constructed today

Details: Bus rapid transit service connecting Town Center, Cumberland and Midtown Atlanta via dedicated busway on US-41 corridor.

To proceed, this project would require official action by the Cobb Board of Commissioners. The county also passed a resolution requiring that a referendum of Cobb voters.

Cost: $493 million*

* If constructed today

Details:Expansion of the city of Atlanta’s streetcar network and the construction of light rail on the Atlanta BeltLine.

Cost: $1.26 billion*

* If constructed today

EXAMPLE: MARTA Expansion in Clayton County

MARTA buses are now running in Clayton County after county voters in 2014 approved a 1-cent sales tax to bring MARTA service to the area. The tax revenue may one day bring high-capacity transit to Clayton. MARTA is exploring building commuter rail line from Jonesboro to the East Point MARTA rail station, at a cost of $300 million, if constructed today. The concept is preliminary.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

‘CONCEPT 3’ PROVIDES LONG-RANGE VISION FOR POTENTIAL TRANSIT EXPANSION

What might the region’s transit network look like years down the line? Every few years, that question is tackled head on by the Atlanta Regional Commission, local governments, and local transportation agencies. It’s a vision that includes the region’s top priority transit projects – without considering available funding.

Concept 3 identifies 50 potential transit projects, from heavy rail to rapid bus lines, across Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties and the city of Atlanta. The regional transit vision will help guide future planning and investments in the Atlanta region, including a 13-county Regional Transit Plan to be developed later this year by the newly formed Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, or the ATL.

Projects are grouped according to seven geographic areas. Highlights include:

Atlanta Streetcar expansion on the entire Atlanta BeltLine loop and several crosstown routes.

Commuter rail to Lovejoy; bus rapid transit on U.S 41.

A bus rapid transit line to connect Kennesaw State University and the Arts Center MARTA station.

Light rail on Clifton Corridor between Lindbergh and Avondale MARTA stations.

Heavy rail between Doraville MARTA station and Jimmy Carter Boulevard.

Bus-rapid transit line on Piedmont/Roswell roads.

Bus rapid transit on Roosevelt Highway and South Fulton Industrial.

  • Light rail line on the top end of I-285, from Vinings in Cobb to Doraville in DeKalb.

Map – Concept 3 (click to enlarge)

Concept 3 Details

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

MANAGED TOLL LANES CREATE RELIABLE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Express Toll Lane

Express Toll Lane

The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes the construction of a network of managed Express toll lanes on key highway corridors that provide faster, more reliable trips on the region’s busiest highway corridors. Transit vehicles, such as the regional Xpress bus system, are able to use these new lanes, offering a more reliable commuting option.

Managed toll lanes use variable-price tolling to maintain free-flowing travel, even during peak travel times, for people who carpool, take transit, or pay a toll.

Managed Toll Lane Projects in Metro Atlanta

The Atlanta Region’s Plan allocates $10.1 billion through 2040 to build, operate, maintain and pay debt service on the Express lane network. The network currently includes 68 miles of freeway lanes. The plan would add another 100 miles to the Express lane network.

I-85 North (DeKalb and Gwinnett counties)

  • Length: 26 miles
  • Usage: 24,000+ vehicles per day

I-75 South (Henry County)

  • Length: 12 miles
  • Usage: 7,000+ vehicles per day

Northwest Corridor (I-75 & I-575, Cobb & Cherokee counties)

  • Length: 30 miles
  • Ga. 400
  • I-285 – West, East and Top End
  • I-20 West
  • I-20 East
  • I-85 North (additional lanes)
Map - ARC Managed Toll Lanes Projects

Map – ARC Managed Toll Lanes Projects (click to enlarge)

How Toll Lanes Work

Most vehicles must pay a toll to use the lanes. The price rises and falls depending on the level of congestion in the highway corridor, in order to keep traffic flowing freely in the Express lanes. Buses and carpools with three or more people per vehicle can use Express lanes free of charge.

Some projects have lanes in both directions, while others use reversible lanes, with traffic directed toward town in the morning rush hour and reversed in the afternoon through signage and gates.

There are two types of toll lanes in the Atlanta region

High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes:
Vehicles with one and two occupants must pay a variable toll; carpools and transit vehicles ride free
Express Toll Lanes (ETL):
All non-transit vehicles must pay a variable toll, no matter the number of people riding.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

ENCOURAGING ALTERNATIVE COMMUTE OPTIONS

The Georgia Department of Transportation in a joint effort with ARC’s Mobility Services Division operate the Georgia Commute Options program in the Atlanta region, a program designed to increase the use of alternative commute options, including:

  • Carpooling
  • Vanpooling
  • Biking and walking
  • Teleworking
  • Flexible work schedules

The Georgia Commute Options program helps employers establish and operate commute option programs for their employees. The program includes measures that make it easier for solo car commuters to make a change, such as guaranteeing up to five free rides home from work per year if an unexpected event occurs.

Georgia Commute Options logo

By the Numbers

29 million

Reduction in vehicle miles traveled by metro Atlanta participants in the Commute Options program (2014)

17.7 million

Savings in fuel and vehicle maintenance costs by metro Atlanta participants in the Commute Options program (2014)

6,816

Number of people participating in Commute Options program (2014)

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

BETTER OPTIONS FOR BICYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS

Bicycling and walking are critical transportation modes throughout the Atlanta region, and not just for short trips. When combined with public transit, walking or biking provides a viable option for many longer trips.

The Atlanta Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan, Walk, Bike, Thrive!, envisions the completion of a regional-scale trail network, community scale walking and bicycling networks, and first- and last-mile connections to regional transit systems.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes funding for the completion of this network as well as for other regionally significant pedestrian, bicycle, trail and transit-access projects. Overall funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is projected to be $1.8 billion through 2040.

The Atlanta Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan includes the following strategies to increase the share of trips made on foot or by bike:

These are areas where the built environment already supports walking and biking for short trips to some extent. These are generally places with a variety of destinations such as parks, schools, and commercial areas; a connected street grid; transit service; and a mix of housing types. These areas include the region’s existing and emerging WalkUPs, Livable Centers Initiative areas, CIDs and activity centers.
ARC will work closely with transit providers to improve access to transit stops and improve the quality and quantity of transit service between “mode shift opportunity zones” so that walking and bicycling can be easily combined with transit for longer regional trips.
ARC will adopt a strategy of “relentless incrementalism” to identify barriers to walking and biking in these areas and work to address them as opportunities arise.
ARC will pursue the creation of a regional trail system in partnership with state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations that are focused on trails, such as PATH Foundation. Importantly, some parts of the region that are not particularly conducive to walking or biking also have urgent safety and equity needs that ARC can help address immediately. These improvements should focus on decreasing pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries as well as providing sidewalks and bikeways for populations that rely on walking and biking.
Projected bike lane along 10th st. in Atlanta

The Atlanta Region’s Plan supports the development of bicycle infrastructure projects, such as this protected bike lane along 10th St. in Atlanta.

Map - Regional Trail System Concept

ARC’s Regional Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan envisions linking many existing trails to create a regional trail network.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan also includes the Safe Streets for Walking & Bicycling plan, which provides a range of strategies to reduce serious injuries and deaths. The issue has taken on greater urgency in recent years, as the number of collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists in the Atlanta region has risen sharply, from 1,778 in 2006 to 2,900 in 2015, a 63% increase.

Safety measures that local governments can take to reduce injuries and deaths include:

  • Installing medians and pedestrian crossings
  • Enhancing crosswalk visibility
  • Building and improving sidewalks
  • Building separated bike lanes
  • Changing speed limits
  • Reducing number of lanes
  • Improving and installing street lighting
  • Installing traffic calming measures

By the Numbers

42 percent

…of people work within a 5-minute bike ride of an existing trail.

33 percent

…of people live within a 5-minute bike ride of a transit stop.

5 percent

…percent of all trips in the Atlanta region are made by bicycling or walking.

 It is the policy of ARC to:

  • Establish effective transit services that provide regional accessibility
  • Prioritize transit projects in areas with transit-supportive land use, plans and regulations
  • Promote bicycle transportation by developing safe and connected route options and facilities
  • Promote pedestrian-friendly policies and design
  • Enhance and expand Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs