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Atlanta's Regional Rail and Transit Systems.

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This is a thread to discuss the state of Regional Rail Transit in Atlanta. I know originally there have been several plans for commuter rail and the Atlanta Beltline as depicted below. Also at one time there were plans to expand Marta as well.

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The commuter rail is essentially a go. I believe September 2006 is set for the opening. They are also trying to stretch the startup budget to allow for two additional stations in Hampton and Griffin. The current budget is for a line to Lovejoy (just north of Hampton). Though Hampton isn't very accepting of it, Griffin is pushing hard for it.

MARTA expansion is essential at a stop unless Fulton and Dekalb extend their sales tax or they get funding from somewhere else (like the state). Dekalb and Fulton, in revolt to supporting a transit system for the "region" with no support from the region, choose not to extend the sales tax, which means MARTA can not issue construction bonds based on future revenues.

Other possible (without funding): Peachtree Street light rail, including a loop around olympic park.

And not rail, but budgeted by the state: BRT to Cobb County.

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In addition to the Beltline and MARTA, it seems that Atlanta and the state of Georgia are contemplating a pretty massive passenger rail system to be phased in over a period of 20 years or so. I found some route maps at the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority Website and a tiny bit more info including some old/outdated feasibility studies elsewhere on the Georgia DOT website.

Here are the maps:

Atlanta Commuter Rail Network:

atlantacommuterrail.gif

Georgia Intercity Rail Network:

georgiaintercityrail.gif

The commuter network is about what you'd expect given the sheer extent of the Atlanta metro area: pretty massive. It's also interesting to note how they plan on (are considering?) using Macon as a major hub for passenger rail in southern Georga and northern Florida. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any PDF reports flying around with more concrete data regarding these routes. PDFs about mass transportation are pure gold- much better reading than any of those silly "novels" or "magazines" or "newspapers." :thumbsup:

Edited by orulz

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I dug up a lot of news clippings a while back and never had a chance to put them together for this thread. Indeed information on Georgia rail has been hard to come by in the past, but lately it has gotten better. There are plenty of individuals who are screaming for a rail system of some sort, while of course there are plenty of short-sighted fools who support the idea of "8 more lanes" on their favorite freeway :angry:

The big hurdle for Georgia is the state government, and nearly all the articles I've collected paint an aggrivating picture, especially from the governor. If you support rail transit, don't vote for him in the next election :)

This Atlanta-Lovejoy line has had quite rocky road, but it looks like it is finally becoming reality. If successful, it could eventually reach as far as Macon. However these cities along the way need to show their support with cash. It is said that the Atlanta-Macon highway corridor is the most heavily travelled commuter corridor in the state!

I'll try to condense what I have and post it. I would love to see more southern states support passenger rail, and Georgia has a great collection of existing ROW to work with.

Edited by NorffCarolina

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I dug up a lot of news clippings a while back and never had a chance to put them together for this thread. Indeed information on Georgia rail has been hard to come by in the past, but lately it has gotten better. There are plenty of individuals who are screaming for a rail system of some sort, while of course there are plenty of short-sighted fools who support the idea of "8 more lanes" on their favorite freeway :angry:

The big hurdle for Georgia is the state government, and nearly all the articles I've collected paint an aggrivating picture, especially from the governor. If you support rail transit, don't vote for him in the next election :)

This Atlanta-Lovejoy line has had quite rocky road, but it looks like it is finally becoming reality. If successful, it could eventually reach as far as Macon. However these cities along the way need to show their support with cash. It is said that the Atlanta-Macon highway corridor is the most heavily travelled commuter corridor in the state!

I'll try to condense what I have and post it. I would love to see more southern states support passenger rail, and Georgia has a great collection of existing ROW to work with.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

NorffCarolina, you are so correct. The state government is the major problem. The previous governor was a Democrat and was pushing this huge new loop freeway arount the whole area (would have been over 200 miles in length). Can anyone say sprawl! He lost his re-election. The current governor does not really seem to care about mass transit. Fortunately, he is looking politically vulnerable. And then you have the problem of too many jurisdictions. Metro Atlanta is balkanized between dozens of municipalities and counties. Georgia's counties are tiny in land area due to the ridiculous way the state apportioned its legislature years ago (resulting in every little area wanting to be its own county to get a state legislator). And now north Fulton is once again trying to leave Fulton County. And Sandy Springs wants to incorporate. There is just no end to it. The kind of progressive regionwide planning that is desperately needed for Metro Atlanta's sake is just not allowable in Georgia between the "circle the wagon" suburban communties and a state government still dominated by the small town/rural Georgia.

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It would be nice to have those lines to connect GA. It would also be nice for the MARTA train to add some new lines.

Ah, what a miracle wishful thinking is.

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It would be nice to have those lines to connect GA. It would also be nice for the MARTA train to add some new lines.

Ah, what a miracle wishful thinking is.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I honestly think light rail would do more for Atlanta than additional MARTA stations. Although there are certainly places, even in the city where I could additional MARTA lines. What Atlanta really needs is something to tie it's neighborhoods together, offer alternatives to the car for moving around the city, and something to encourage developers and residents to dump the car and hope on a trail. Light Rail can do that more effectively than MARTA's heavy rail can. It really brings people out into the street and can have a more positive effect on a greater area, while often being less disruptive. The problem with heavy rail, even more so in a city like Atlanta, is it doesn't have the density to develop rail in residential areas. The big piece missing in Atlanta's transit system is that it doesn't serve a lot of the residential areas of the city, just the commerical. In order to have a successful transit system, and to truly take advantage of the heavy rail in the commerical districts, people have to be able to board near their residents.

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That's hopefully what the Beltline will do.

At least we have realized what we have done and are trying to fix it.

P.S. Yes we do need more light rail.

Edited by ironchapman

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What Atlanta needs are lines connecting the varoius suburbs. Right now, you have to take MATRA downtown and change trains if you are working in a different area. The world's truely successful lines don't rely on one focal interchange.

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What Atlanta needs are lines connecting the varoius suburbs. Right now, you have to take MATRA downtown and change trains if you are working in a different area. The world's truely successful lines don't rely on one focal interchange.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I would agree that a line across 285 (if there are lines up to Cobb and some kind of line up in Gwinnett) would make a lot of sense. I will also note, you have a point that the most successful systems don't rely on a single interchange point. Also, though, the most successful systems don't spend a lot of time "pandering" to the suburbs either. A single cross connection would be sufficient, assuming that the connections to other suburbs are there. Other than that, I wouldn't spend a lot of time in the burbs. Commuter rail, and a couple of lines to the key "cores" in Cobb, N. Fulton, and Gwinnett would be more than enough.

Edited by paulblackgsx

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I didn't mean pander to them, but You have to acknolwdge that most of the people in Atlanta live outside the perimeter. But why not have a rail line that connects Marrietta to Buckhead or Dunwoody to Duluth? Or Apharetta to Sandy Springs to Decatur? Pick a combination you like :) I realize the politics of doing such a thing would be a nightmare, but lets pretend that is not an issue. The commuter rail plan is a great start, but Atlanta needs more than that.

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I didn't mean pander to them, but You have to acknolwdge that most of the people in Atlanta live outside the perimeter. But why not have a rail line that connects Marrietta to Buckhead or Dunwoody to Duluth? Or Apharetta to Sandy Springs to Decatur? Pick a combination you like :) I realize the politics of doing such a thing would be a nightmare, but lets pretend that is not an issue. The commuter rail plan is a great start, but Atlanta needs more than that.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There is no arguing the majority of metro Atlanta is in the burbs. However, I don't think it will do the area much good other than a line across the top end of 285, maybe a EW line through Alpharetta. If you had commuter rail, BRT, and with the existing MARTA connections, you would allow people to move EW across the burbs without having to come all the way DT.

I don't think the politics of running the line is the problem either. It's who pays for it that is always the issue. Cobb, N Fulton, and Gwinnett are all supportive of transit.... as long as they don't have to pay for it.

But I will say this: simply creating cross suburban transit isn't not going to be effect. They need to have other the pieces in place for it to be effect, whether its commuter rail or BRT/LRT. There is valid for several reasons (and my reasons for where I think our disconnect is):

1. Cross suburban transit without additional N/S to core transit isn't effective because most suburbs do not have transit friendly employment centers. For example, if I drive to a commuter station (or BRT/LRT stations) from my house, and it connects me to Alpharetta, where my place of my employement is... guess what, Alpharetta is not a walkable employment center. I'm forced to either make a bus connection (which we know most suburban commuters will no do), or walk a distance I'm unwilling to walk. I do support a Galleria to Dunwoody (northern I285 arc) transit line because the Galleria employment center and Dunwoody are dense enough that they are semi-walkable, and have the ability (or already have) begun converting to a more walkable enviornment, which is a key for transit destinations to be successful.

2. It's rarely thought of, but much like freeways in the suburbs produce sprawl, transit in the burbs will produce development too. The further out you put these transit lines, the further out the development goes. It is far more effective to put these developments in a patterns where the majority of the commuters and development focus on key "employement centers". The problem with suburban (and supporting them in just about anyway) commuting patterns are, is they spyder web. If people like in the burbs, but work in a more centralized (city, edge city) employment center, it is easier for mass transit to be effective.

3. Land Use still needs to catch up. The cost of supporting transit is usually the big issue. There are enough people to support mass transit, but their land use doesn't encourage them to do so. Recent trends in Atlanta (and around the country) is for suburbs to develop around "town squares" rather than around retail developments. This is absolutely key to transit being success. The only suburban transit (other than bus) that I would suggest is those that are built around this town square. But moving some of the shopping, entertainment, resturant going activities into a town square, surrounded by denser development, followed further out by low density housing, is you begin to develop an opportunity for transit to be based in these town squares (or nearby).

4. One of the missing pieces, what makes Atlanta transit uncomplete, isn't their lack of service to the suburban commuters, it's the lack of residential connections. Most Atlanta transit serves employment centers and parking decks, not residential centers. Even in town, the majority of Atlanta's neighborhoods (where the majority of residents live) are not serviced by rail. Those living in the city, often times will take a bus to connect to transit. This generally isn't successful in the suburbs.

So my argument is: suburban to suburban commuting is LAST because it is more dependent on the other pieces. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, I think it should. Even more so closer in. Without those pieces, cross suburban transit only gives you an expensive, uneffective line that not only will not significantly improve mobility, but in some cases could actually continue to encourage bad suburban habits.

Edited by paulblackgsx

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Ok, I think we are arguing the same point :)

Moving people around town without going to downtown is exactly what I mean.

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Ok, I think we are arguing the same point :)

Moving people around town without going to downtown is exactly what I mean.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I modified my post to clarify what I believe our disconnect is.

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I put something like this on another forum.

What if there was a line that went around ATL, like this:

Part 1: Buckhead to Fulton County Airport (after an extension of the West line to FC Arpt.)

Part 2: FC Arpt. to Lakewood/Ft. McPherson.

Part 3: Lakewood to Inman Park

The North line covers the rest of that.

-Also, extend the Proctor Creek (Bankhead) line to Marietta.

-Extend the East line to Stone Mtn. Park

-An extension of the North Line to Alpharetta is already in planning.

-Extend the South Line to Forest Park and Ft. Gillem.

The Streetcar up Peachtree in planning sounds nice, there should be more of them.

The Beltline will make a nice addition, too.

Edited by ironchapman

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I like the sound of an new rail system, cause the city where I from is big and growing, but dosen't have no interstate, but has an rail system that dosen't include passengers. The high speed train is an perfect idea :)

That's what Griffin needs an passenger train

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What city are you from, Metroinspect.?

It's good to see that we have another supporter of the BeltLine and the other proposed forms of transit.

By the way, welcome to UrbanPlanet!

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Assuming that auto traffic is only going to get worse in time, I predict that the public demand for rail will increase. I suggest that regardless of policy makers' lack of commitment to rail transit, you must make sure that old rail rights of way are maintained. Losing RsOW would make future projects more costly and thus more difficult to set in motion.

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New article in the AJC about rail transit in Atlanta: http://www.ajc.com/business/content/busine...8emoryplan.html

They talk about commuter rail at Tucker, Emory, and Atlantic Station. Presumably any commuter rail would also go to the Five Points MMPT. These are the first four stops on the commuter rail line to Athens, which is supposedly number two on the implementation queue after Lovejoy/Macon.

The article also mentions streetcars in the Emory area. I've never seen that part of Atlanta before; do you folks think that it would be a good idea?

In other news (not from this article) we'll supposedly find out whether the Lovejoy is a "go" sometime later this month. The issue of whether or not Clayton county and its respective towns will take over the $4 million annually to run the trains after the first three years has not been resolved yet. The state will use some of the grant money to run the trains for the first three years, but they don't want to pay to build it if Clayton is just going to ditch it once it's not free anymore.

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I think its a good sign that Atlanta keeps bringing up alternate methods of transportation. I am not familiar with this area either though, so I await an Atlantan's response :)

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The article also mentions streetcars in the Emory area. I've never seen that part of Atlanta before; do you folks think that it would be a good idea?

Emory is home to the venerable Emory University and the Center for Disease Control. It is a very congested area that is about 10 miles more or less outside of downtown Atlanta and a hop skip and a jump from downtown Decatur. You are more likely to find people willing to try alternative fuels in this area. I just hope that these young people would be willing to get out of their BMWs, SAABs and Audis and take the streetcar. It's suburban in nature but much more dense than your typical Atlanta suburb.

I feel streetcars would be a blessing for this area. Although this area is in the Marta Service area, anything that can increase public transportation options would be beneficial. I would assume that if it is convenient to use then more people in the area would use it. It would also be nice if these streetcars would also include Toco Hills.

Now let me go read the article. :)

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