New plan could radically transform Georgia's mass transit system

ATLANTA — State lawmakers are working on a plan to radically change mass transit in the metro Atlanta area.

It could include rebranding all local transit under one unifying name. but the plan won’t involve a state takeover of MARTA.

State lawmakers told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot that they realize the constant traffic across the metro is an impediment to growth, so they’re working on making mass transit for the future.

Right now, there are 11 different transit authorities across 13 metro counties.

MARTA train 

Elliot learned Wednesday that lawmakers are looking at unifying all those systems under one regional transit authority. That would make seamless county-to-county transit, using one app or website to navigate the whole thing and rebranding every one of them, including MARTA, under one unifying name like Transit ATL.

“I would like to see the whole system rebranded to the ATL.  That’s our brand.  We fly into The ATL. We get on an ATL train, ATL bus, ATL express bus, light rail, whatever we have, it would be branded ATL,” State Sen. Brandon Beach told Elliot.

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Beach said this would not be a state takeover of MARTA or any other system, just a way to unify all of them.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner said the major obstacle is funding and getting everyone on board. But, he told Elliot, they’re getting there.

“It’s important for us to build a consensus, first around the issue.  It’s an important issue for metro Atlanta,” Tanner said.

Elliot then took the idea to commuters. He found Breion Huston waiting for a bus at the Cobb transit station in Marietta.

Huston thinks making it easier and more efficient to get on mass transit around metro Atlanta is a good idea, though he wants to see the details.

“That sounds like a smart thing to do, you know? I think that’d be great. That’d be great for the whole city, you know?” Huston told Elliot.

Critics worry about the funding that would have to come from the state, the feds, the counties and maybe a sales tax.

We expect to learn more when they release all the details within the next two weeks.