MARTA, one of the important contributors to help address gridlock in the Atlanta area, has embarked on a program to replace all of its rapid transit cars by 2026 when whey will have reached their lifespan. Concurrently, there is reinforcement of maintenance plans for a car safety and extension program. All MARTA cars have already had their mid-life overhaul, but are still due for massive replacement within the next decade.
The vision for future MARTA train cars is innovative. New ones will be designed to also work on streetcars, electrically powered by a third rail mounted in the tracks. Another aspect of projected new MARTA train cars is that they will be configured to travel on freight rails. That feature would be useful for planning rapid transit all the way out to Clayton County.
A chief concern of MARTA, as it seeks advice from the train car industry, is to find the right product in order to protect itself from early obsolescence. Technology to employ must be new, but not so much that it is problem-prone. MARTA desires to not just preserve the status quo, but to expand creatively to benefit future commuters, even as rapid transit grows in synch with transportation modes in an expanding Metro Atlanta. Hopefully rapid rail will develop apace as one of the vital ways for us to navigate through an increasingly congested Metro.
–Dr. Paul Hudson