A rendering of the bus rapid transit lanes on Campbellton Road (Courtesy MARTA)

The MARTA Board of Directors voted today to advance its plan for bus rapid transit (BRT) rather than rail along the Campbellton Road corridor.

Part of a $300 million dollar transit and infrastructure investment in southwest Atlanta, the BRT line will run for six miles down Campbellton Road, connecting key destinations such as Oakland City Station, the new Greenbriar transit hub, and the Barge Road park-and-ride, with nine planned stations along the route.

The BRT line will offer rapid high-capacity transit in dedicated lanes down the center of the road and will reduce the transit travel time along Campbellton Road to 18 minutes, 35 percent faster than the current Route 83, according to MARTA.

Other proposed BRT amenities include off-board fare payment similar to MARTA’s trains, level boarding platforms, electric BRT vehicles, and transit signal priority to improve travel times and reliability.

“This will be a gold standard BRT system, complete with stations, platform-level entry at both doors, and dedicated lanes, very much like a rail system, but at a lower cost and with a faster construction completion time,” said MARTA Interim General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “Center-running BRT also allows us to invest more money in the corridor with pedestrian and cycling amenities and infrastructure features that benefit the entire community.”

Campbellton Road rapid transit was adopted as part of the More MARTA Atlanta Program in 2018. However, some residents in southwest Atlanta weren’t happy with MARTA’s plan to run BRT lines instead of rail as originally proposed in the More MARTA plan, which is paid for through a half-penny sales tax and federal funding.

“We did hear from some who see BRT as an inferior investment and are concerned that transit-oriented development won’t be as robust. That is simply not true,” said MARTA Board Chair Rita Scott. “BRT is a premium transit service that can be delivered faster, for less money, operate more affordably, and is much more flexible than fixed rail transit, making it the clear choice for this corridor and the best use of taxpayer money. And I’m confident as this project comes to fruition, the people who live and work in this corridor will agree.”

MARTA’s goal is to begin operating BRT on Campbellton Road in 2028.

Transit developments approved

The MARTA Board of Directors also advanced pre-development work on two transit-oriented development (TOD) projects on the East/West Line, with the award of master planning contracts for Indian Creek and H.E. Holmes rail stations and surrounding areas, and approval to issue a TOD Request for Proposals (RFP) for Indian Creek.

The Indian Creek TOD RFP approval positions the property equally with TODs at H.E. Holmes and Kensington Stations, which received previous board support. Next, MARTA and its consultants will complete the master planning and rezoning of these significant land areas, then issue TOD RFPs to the development community.

The board also awarded master planning contracts to WSP for Indian Creek and HKS for H.E. Holmes. Indian Creek and H.E. Holmes station, which are the westernmost and easternmost points of the Blue Line, have 52 and 22 acres, respectively, for development.

“Development at and around these rail stations presents a significant opportunity to benefit the surrounding communities while allowing for an increase in ridership and a better overall experience for our customers,” said Greenwood.

MARTA recently opened the Marchon apartments at King Memorial Station and is nearing completion on the Quill apartments at Edgewood/Candler Park Station.

A senior affordable housing project will break ground at Avondale Station this fall, while 250 apartments are also planned at Kensington Station.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.