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10 August 2015

MARTA Ridership High in Clayton County High Despite Predictions of Empty Buses from Opponents

Nearly six months ago, MARTA buses rolled into Clayton County for the first time after voters approved a 1% sales tax to fund transit operations.

Critics said MARTA would be a waste of money; a white elephant in a county that could ill-afford to raise taxes in a struggling economy.

Perennial county commission candidate Rose Barbee was one of them.

(MARTA continues to expand in Clayton County, adding three new bus routes in August. Image courtesy MARTA.)
“Taxpayers will be paying for [the bus service] but not using that transportation,” Barbee told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Barbee ran for Clayton County Commission twice; once in 2010, and again in 2014. She was defeated both times in the Democratic primary.

"We shouldn’t be spending money when we should be saving money," Barbee continued.

Despite the predictions from Barbee, and others, new numbers seem to indicate that Clayton County citizens are flocking to MARTA in droves.

The first new bus route dedicated solely to Clayton County averages 1,807 riders on weekdays; 1,357 riders on Saturdays; and 820 riders on Sundays.

“Route 196 was the former C-Tran routes 501 and 503 consolidated. We have over 2,000 passengers per day on this route,” Clayton County MARTA Board member Roberta Abdul-Salaam told Home Rule News. “This route is heaviest thus far for the county and the thing to note is that it does not serve the entire Riverdale Road corridor including Church Street. We are anticipating heavier usage when this route expands.”

On 8 August, MARTA unveiled three new bus routes in Clayton County, featuring service to Hartsfield Airport, East Point, Hapeville, and the Clayton County Justice Center for the first time.

Officials are continuing to study various scenarios that could bring rapid rail to Clayton County in the future