After tabulating Atlantans’ 2 cents for the better part of 2021, MARTA has lifted the veil on what its new fleet of train cars will look like—and how they’ll function to better suit today’s riders, officials announced today.

As part of State of MARTA 2022, a virtual event updating the transit agency’s progress, MARTA general manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker presented video clips showcasing sleek new railcars (think: Japanese bullet train meets Optimist Prime) and reimagined interiors.

MARTA launched an initiative last year called “Your Ride, You Decide” that let people vote on four exterior options for the new fleet.

Per today’s presentation, the chosen exterior designs most closely resemble the conceptual scheme called “Minimalist: Option A”—if not even more minimalist than originally envisioned.

Both Minimalist options floated by MARTA in September were designed to evoke speed, officials said at the time. Agency leaders expect the first new cars will be zipping around Atlanta next year.   

Images via Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority/Stadler

“This exterior design showcases the iconic MARTA colors alongside the railcar, carrying your eye down the length of the train, capturing the speed of the train while highlighting its modern sleek design,” Parker said via Twitter. “The first one will pull into metro Atlanta in 2023!”  

Meanwhile, inside the new railcars, features are expected to include wireless phone chargers throughout, digital ad screens, more ample ADA space near doors, large open gangways, and bigger, more versatile spaces for bicycles and strollers.

MARTA’s first crowdsourcing feedback campaign last year garnered 17,000 votes and some 700 comments pertaining to the trains’ interior designs and features. Above all, MARTA found, riders want digital maps, next-station and destination displays, and ADA-accessible seating and signage inside trains.

“Our new railcars have state-of-the-art features, with added functionality and reliability,” Parker added. “The inside and outside designs were chosen by our riders… we heard from thousands of you on what you wanted in the train of the future.”

Images via Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority/Stadler

Many of MARTA’s 300 current railcars date to the agency’s 1970s beginnings and are prone to breakdowns, agency leaders have said.

MARTA entered a contract in 2019 to purchase $646 million worth of modernized new railcars from longtime manufacturer Stadler, marking the largest procurement deal ever for the train builder and transit agency.

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