In July 2023, the South DeKalb Transit Initiative project team unveiled 10 evaluated transit alternatives in a series of public meetings within the south DeKalb study area. The team showcased the screening methodology and their benefits, impacts – including cost and implementation timeframes, and projected ridership for each alternative.
Crucially, the public, MARTA customers, community leaders, and elected officials voiced their comments, questions, and concerns to the project team. Such feedback informs the selection of the final alternative and will remain at the forefront of the initiative.
After weighing each alternative across several different metrics, including community feedback, the project team is recommending 4 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) alternatives to advance to the next stage of screening. These include:
The South DeKalb Transit Initiative is a comprehensive effort to address current and anticipated needs for high-quality, dependable transit, creating reliable connections where people live, work, and play.
MARTA, in coordination with DeKalb County, the City of Atlanta, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), initiated the South DeKalb Transit Initiative Study to improve mobility and accessibility to jobs and housing by providing a high-capacity transit alternative in south DeKalb County. In addition, the project will support economic development and revitalization efforts in the corridor, making DeKalb County a more vibrant affordable, and connected place to live.
South DeKalb roadways are seeing more traffic, slower travel times, and more crashes at major intersections, making commutes unpredictable. And the community has voiced their concerns: there are not enough bike, pedestrian, and public transit options between residential and commercial centers within the corridor, forcing residents to solely rely on cars for everyday tasks. To address this, MARTA is exploring different transit mode options, including Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Heavy Rail Transit (HRT), along several different routes to serve the current and future mobility needs of south DeKalb.
Transportation is key to connecting area residents to jobs and for the area's economic development. By 2050, population and employment in our study area are projected to increase by 33% and 25%, respectively. The study area includes portions of the Cities of Atlanta, Stonecrest, Lithonia, Decatur, and Avondale. The study area is bound by Redan Road to the north, Downtown Atlanta near MARTA Five Points Station to the west, Rockdale County to the east, and SR 155/SR 212 to the south.
Public transit is key to connecting residents to jobs and for the area's long term economic growth. By 2050, population and employment in our study area, which includes portions of the Cities of Atlanta, Stonecrest, Lithonia, Decatur, and Avondale, are projected to increase by 33% and 25% respectively. Areas of significant growth are along Panola Road between Covington Highway and I-20, the intersection of Glenwood Road and Candler Road, and the Stonecrest Mall area. These largely residential communities are home to relatively affordable homes, making these neighborhoods attractive to daily commuters as only 7% of residents work in the area. At the same time, The Mall at Stonecrest is the largest commercial node in the study area and has enormous economic development potential, so much so that MARTA is developing a multi-modal transit hub adjacent to the mall set to open in 2026.
The project team analyzed 10 alternatives to provide high-capacity transit in south DeKalb.
The 10 alternatives were measured against a screening methodology that reflects the public’s best interest and the variables the federal government uses to analyze funding-worthy infrastructure projects.
When weighed against the screening criteria (shown below), the 4 BRT options performed better than the LRT and HRT alternatives. Therefore, the project team is recommending that BRT go on to the next phase of screening.