What Should Transit on the BeltLine Look Like?

Supporters of a proposed streetcar extension argue that Atlanta’s popular BeltLine corridor was always meant to include transit, making it more than just a recreational area.

2 minute read

February 7, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

People biking and rollerblading on Atlanta BeltLine trail

Christopher V Jones / Atlanta BeltLine in 2020.

More than two decades ago, an idea to repurpose an Atlanta rail corridor into a multi-use path, complete with a light rail line, was born at Georgia Tech. Now, a professor from that institution drew criticism from light rail supporters for a provocative op-ed calling the proposal to extend the Atlanta Streetcar to the BeltLine “a train wreck.” Writing in Urbanize Atlanta, Josh Green quotes portions of Professor Hans Klein’s editorial, countering them with responses from BeltLine Rail Now! (BRN), a group that supports the project.

In the op-ed, Klein writes, “Less-costly transit technologies and more useful radial routes are the basis of successful transit.” BRN’s response: “The BeltLine is the only place with existing dedicated space for transit to move unimpeded by cars, in its own right of way, and it would be a folly to not take advantage of that.” 

Klein proposes that bus rapid transit (BRT), which MARTA is building elsewhere in Atlanta, “can provide all the functionality of light rail at a much lower cost and with nearer-term deployment.” BRN, meanwhile, argues that streetcars can serve more users thanks to their larger capacity, meaning a need for fewer trains that will disrupt pedestrian traffic at crossings. According to BRN, “The BeltLine is meant to be much more than a walking and biking trail. It has always been planned as a transit corridor.” Removing a transit option, BRN says, is an “ableist” move that would limit mobility for people unable to walk, bike, or scooter for long distances.

Thursday, February 2, 2023 in Urbanize Atlanta

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Amtrak Acela Express train passing through Harrison station in Newark, New Jersey

‘Train Daddy’ Andy Byford to Oversee Amtrak’s High-Speed Rail Efforts

Byford, who formerly ran NYC Transit and Transport for London, could bring renewed vigor to the agency’s plans to expand regional rail in the United States.

March 28, 2023 - StreetsBlog NYC

Buses in downtown Seattle on the dedicated 3rd Avenue bus lanes

Seattle Bus Lane Cameras Capture Over 100,000 Violations

An automated traffic enforcement pilot program caught drivers illegally using transit lanes more than 110,000 times in less than a year.

March 28, 2023 - Axios

View of Statue of Liberty with New York City skyline in background

Immigration Grows, Population Drops in Many U.S. Counties

International immigration to the country’s most populous areas tripled even as major metropolitan areas continued to lose population.

March 31 - The New York Times

Detroit Sports Arena

$616 Million in Development Incentives Approved for District Detroit

The “Transformational Brownfield” incentives approved by the Detroit City Council for the $1.5 billion District Detroit still require approval by the state.

March 31 - Detroit Free Press

A red sign reads, “Welcome to New Canaan.”

Affordable Housing Development Rejected for Lack of Third Staircase in Connecticut

The New Canaan Planning Commission rejected a development proposal, including 31 below-market-rate apartments, for lack of a third staircase, among other reasons, at a time when advocates are pushing to relax two-staircase requirements.

March 31 - Stamford Advocate

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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.