Following the bombshell news in January that MARTA’s 17-project, $2.7-billion More MARTA expansion plans were going to be financially impossible—at least for now—Atlantans who’d been forking over a half-penny sales tax since 2016 were audibly upset. 

Fuel on the fire is the fact that MARTA has completed no significant rail expansions for decades.  

MARTA leadership vowed to deliver a revised list of priority projects to the Atlanta City Council Transportation Committee at its March meeting. That rejiggered compendium of expansion priorities—now nine projects—arrived last week.

Highlights: Using half-penny sales tax proceeds, MARTA plans by 2028 to have the extended Atlanta Streetcar up and running to Ponce City Market; to rehab or build three transit stations; and to create six new bus transit lines (including BRT and ART), while bumping other initiatives to “Tier 2” status for later evaluation.

Here are MARTA’s plans, in chart form:

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

Other projects of high public interest—including BRT routes on North Avenue and Northside Drive, along with four light-rail segments planned around the BeltLine loop—will be shelved until at least 2035, according to MARTA’s predictions.

The announcement has left some rail enthusiasts—including respected voices in local media—feeling slighted. But MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood told the council’s transportation committee that new financial realities mandated the changes, and that the approach of “spreading that peanut butter too thin and getting a little [expansion work] done in every area” would ultimately be of service to nobody, as the AJC reports.  

Greenwood has blamed rising building costs (see: Summerhill Bus Rapid Transit construction delays), inflation, and the complex nature of major transit projects for the lack of expansion progress since Atlanta voters approved a sales tax bump to fund a more robust MARTA system six years ago. Lack of state and federal funding hasn’t helped.

Another factor hamstringing expansion efforts is this: Almost half (46 percent) of the $395 million collected from More MARTA sales taxes so far has been channeled toward enhanced local bus services, as the Saporta Report relays. But MARTA leaders are optimistic, as the AJC reports, a planned redesign of the agency’s bus network next year could help remedy that.

Now that the revised list is here, what say you, good people of Atlanta? 

Let’s keep this simple: With 10 being the most satisfied and 1 being the least satisfied, what’s your take on MARTA’s revised plans for using tax dollars to build out its transit system in coming years?