MARTA ridership in Clayton County growing steadily since 2015 launch


MARTA ridership in Clayton County has increased more than 17 percent in the past two years as residents in the south metro community increasingly embrace public transportation.

An average of about 16,200 people in Clayton rode MARTA on weekdays in 2017 compared to 13,800 in 2015, according to numbers provided by the transit system.

And at least two of the bus routes that serve Clayton have among the highest weekday ridership in MARTA’s system. Route 196 and Route 15 have weekday ridership of 3,712 and 3,874, respectively, far above MARTA’s average weekday ridership of 1,640 people.

“Ridership itself, since we launched bus service in Clayton County in 2014, has been very successful to say the least,” said MARTA assistant manager Benjamin Limmer.

Success in Clayton is important to MARTA as it celebrates its fourth year in the county. MARTA will add two additional bus routes, as originally planned. The growing ridership also helps back arguments for a possible extension of rail service into Clayton over the next decade.

Clayton touted its burgeoning public transportation — as well as its proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — in metro Atlanta’s bid to attract Amazon’s second headquarters.

“We are making sure we show the metro area and the state we can support Amazon’s business,” Clayton Commission Chairman Jeff Turner said last week after an Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance board meeting.

While support for MARTA has been strong in Clayton, the handful of residents who attended a MARTA meeting on bus route changes earlier in the week offered suggestions on ways the transit service could improve.

Gordon Drives regularly uses MARTA to attend events at the Georgia Archives in Morrow, but said bus connections could be better on routes 93 and 193 and that riders sometimes have to wait long periods to transfer.

Veronica Greene of Riverdale said that, while MARTA may be pleased with the ridership on Route 196, it’s a different story if you’re a passenger.

“That bus is overcrowded,” she said. “Every time you call MARTA, they say they are going to work on it but nothing ever happens.”

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