The ATL: Making it easier for people within the metro Atlanta region to travel from where they are to where they want or need to be

On Thursday, May 3, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation that created a regional transit governance and funding structure: The Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, or the ATL.

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Legislation

The ATL was created as a new regional governance and funding structure, to improve coordination, integration and efficiency of transit in metro Atlanta.  A regional transit plan encompassing all transit projects and initiatives will be developed, containing access to new funding sources for activities within it.

The Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (Chris Tomlinson) shall serve as a temporary director until the board is constituted and an executive director is appointed by such board.

The legislation was sponsored by the following:

  • Senator Brandon Beach
  • Representative Kevin Tanner
  • Representative Calvin Smyre
  • Representative Christian Coomer
  • Representative Jason Shaw
  • Representative Mary Margaret Oliver
  • Representative Meagan Hanson

Click to see legislation:

The structure of the ATL is comprised of five essential components.

The ATL in 5 Parts

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1. Regional Governance
A 16-member Board of Directors will be named by Dec. 1, 2018. Members will serve four-year terms. The Board will be comprised of:

2.Transit Funding
The ATL improves access to transit funding and expands transit-specific local sales and use tax (TSPLOST). Counties within the ATL can hold a referendum to raise an additional sales tax of up to 1 percent for up to 30 years.

3.Regional Transit Plan
A core activity of the ATL will be the development of a regional transit plan developed for six and 20-year time horizons. The plan will be developed in consultation with the region’s metropolitan planning organizations.

4.Interaction with Existing Transit Operators
Current providers – particularly MARTA – have their current operational and funding autonomy preserved. MARTA is the sole provider of heavy rail in the region.

5.Regional Unified Branding
As of Jan. 1, 2019, new MARTA assets greater than $250,000 must display the ATL brand. By Jan. 1, 2023, all transit systems must use the unified logo and brand.

Planning and Funding

The regional transit plan is one of two core activities for the ATL. It will serve as the official multiyear plan for transit services and facilities for a 13-county area – Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale.

Regional stakeholders, including local governments, may submit requests to the ATL for additions and amendments to the plan based on changing conditions.  After Jan. 1, 2019, referendum transit projects must be in the plan and approved by the ATL.

The ATL will oversee all federal and state transit funds in the region, which is its second core activity. Counties within the ATL can hold a referendum to raise an additional sales tax of up to 1 percent for up to 30 years. Counties outside of 13-county region can pair together to use new T-SPLOST authority.

The ATL can issue its own bonds and work with other state agencies to issue bonds.

Special provisions are included for Gwinnett, Cobb and Fulton counties.

  • Gwinnett County – can hold a TSPLOST referendum on joining MARTA via contract at any time
  • Cobb County – can create a special district within Cobb, hold a TSPLOST referendum and enter into a contract with MARTA to provide transit services within such special district at any time up to Dec. 1, 2019
  • Cobb and Gwinnett – have the same options to join MARTA as existed prior to HB 930
  • Fulton County – can hold a referendum for additional a 0.2 percent sales tax for transit

All existing transit agencies still exist and will continue to exist. These include MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Gwinnett County Transit, CobbLinc, CATS and others.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority ,will have with exclusive authority for operating region’s existing heavy rail system, including any new heavy rail projects. MARTA controls its current local funding and federal formula funding, and its legal contractual obligations are unaffected.

The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s (GRTA) authority over the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP, the Developments of Regional Impact and the Governor’s Development Council remain intact as they exist today.

The ATL is administratively attached to GRTA. GRTA’s role in regional transit transitions to the ATL no later than July 1, 2020.

The State Road and Tollway Authority’s (SRTA) tolling, Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank ,and transportation financing roles remain intact.

SRTA’s GO! Transit program will be coordinated with the ATL. SRTA’s role in regional transit operations transitions to the ATL no later than July 1, 2021.

The Atlanta Regional Commission and the ATL will work closely together to revise current regional transit process. They also will work to ensure that the regional transit plan aligns and integrates with TIP and STP processes and funding.

Gwinnett County, CobbLinc and the Cherokee Area Transportation System (CATS) have many options going forward.

Make it easier for people within metro Atlanta to go from where they are to where they want or need to be within the region.

The benefits to visitors and residents of metro Atlanta are numerous. With the ATL, the state of Georgia will be able to:

  • Plan strategic transit expansion projects within the region.
  • Mesh the current service offerings into a connected network of options for current and potential customers
  • Combine existing public transportation resources with innovative partnerships with private sector providers, such as rideshare companies and technology providers
  • Increase the seamlessness of the customer experience
  • Address first mile and last mile connectivity gaps
  • To Improve overall value for the end user
  • Transition from providing segmented trips where we plan in silos defined by modes to providing integrated journeys across multiple travel modes where and when it makes sense

If your organization or agency is looking to learn more about the ATL, you can request a speaker.

The ATL in the News