Atlanta Transit Could Go Fare-Free

The city has tasked the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority with evaluating the feasibility of eliminating transit fares.

1 minute read

August 5, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

MARTA Station

ReanC / Shutterstock

Atlanta could join the ranks of cities experimenting with fare-free transit, pending the results of a study commissioned by the city council in June, reports J.D. Capelouto in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The study will only focus on the impact of fare-free MARTA within Atlanta city limits, but [Councilman Michael Julian Bond] hopes neighboring cities and counties that have MARTA service could eventually contribute to an expanded fare-free program.”

The ordinance passed by the city council requests information on:

  • The cost of providing fare-free transit in the city
  • The funding streams available to the city and MARTA
  • A timeline for implementation
  • A cost analysis of other cities in the United States that offer fare-free transit
  • Partnerships that the city can establish to bolster the effort

This wouldn’t be MARTA’s first foray into free fares. “When the pandemic first hit, the agency waived bus fares, asking passengers to board from the back door to reduce contact with drivers. While it didn’t reach pre-COVID levels, bus ridership increased throughout that period, and sharply decreased when the fares were reinstated, MARTA data shows.”

“Still, the idea could face a number of hurdles, primarily surrounding how MARTA or the city would make up for a millions in lost fare revenue” and maintain or improve service frequency, which many riders say matters more than cost. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Digital drawing of person holding city skyline with wifi symbols and lines indicating smart cities or data.

Cities Awarded for Data-Driven Projects

The What Cities Works Certification recognizes cities for using data to solve real problems.

June 21 - Smart Cities Dive

The Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose, California.

Faith-Based Housing Movement Grows

More churches and municipalities are saying ‘Yes in God’s Backyard.’

June 21 - Vox

Close-up of red and white BUS LANE sign painted in street lane.

Why BRT Can Benefit Cities More Than Rail

Bus rapid transit lines offer a less expensive, quicker-build alternative to rail that can bring other infrastructure improvements with it.

June 21 - Governing

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.