November 17, 2022



ATLANTA – With the unanimous support of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, the City Councils of Jonesboro, Forest Park, Lovejoy, Riverdale, and Lake City, and the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors Planning and Capital Programs Committee today updated the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for State Route 54 in Clayton County from commuter rail to bus rapid transit (BRT). 

In 2018, the MARTA Board adopted a two-pronged LPA that had commuter rail along the Norfolk Southern Corridor and BRT in the western part of the county connecting College Park Station to Southlake Mall. Last December, the Board adopted a standalone LPA for Southlake BRT. Earlier this year, Clayton Southlake BRT advanced to the Project Development phase of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)’s Capital Investment Grant Program as a Small Starts Project. 

The commuter rail option encountered a variety of obstacles with right-of-way acquisition, environmental and historical resource concerns, along with a ballooning cost estimate. In the years of customer and stakeholder engagement conducted in Clayton County, all-day, frequent transit service was preferred, which is inconsistent with commuter rail service that offers only one-way service during peak commute times. In consultation with key stakeholders, BRT emerged as the preferred high-capacity transit option for State Route 54.

“We appreciate the flexibility and support of Clayton County leaders to pivot to best meet the transit needs of the people of Clayton,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “We recently traveled to Indianapolis with the Clayton delegation and saw first-hand the benefits of BRT and how it makes more sense for this transit corridor and will provide faster, more frequent service at a much lower cost.”


BRT on State Route 54 will run for approximately 22 miles, have 17 proposed stops, and connect East Point rail station to Mountain View, Forest Park, Clayton State University, Jonesboro, the Clayton County Justice Center, and Lovejoy in Clayton and East Point and Hapeville in Fulton County. The plan is for State Route 54 BRT to complement Southlake BRT to provide a seamless transit connection for people in Clayton, while ushering in economic development. 

At the November meeting of the MARTA Board of Directors, Clayton County leadership offered their full-throated support of BRT along State Route 54.


“All the board members and I agree that BRT is going to be a vital, quality project that is going to uplift and enhance what we are doing in Clayton County,” said Clayton County Chairman Jeff Turner. 

“This is about the economic development, the workforce it will help usher in, and the overall mobility that we all seek as a municipality,” said Angelyne Butler, Mayor of Forest Park.

Said Ricky L. Clark, Jonesboro City Manager, “When we took this before our board, our councilmembers unanimously approved changing the direction from commuter rail to BRT because we recognize that economic development, workforce development, it’s synonymous with transit.”

“We are absolutely in favor of this opportunity to create access, connectivity, economic growth, and most importantly upward mobility,” said Valencia Williamson, President & CEO, Clayton County Chamber of Commerce. 

State Route 54 BRT is estimated to cost $572 million (in 2022 dollars) to build, requiring less right-of-way access, and reducing construction impacts to residents and businesses. It can be built in half the time as that of commuter rail and once completed operates at a higher frequency, providing service all day rather than just during peak commute times. 

The full MARTA Board of Directors will vote on the LPA at its monthly meeting on Dec. 8.

To see BRT in action visit Clayton County BRT tour in Indianapolis - YouTube.




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