On Saturday the first MARTA buses began their routes in Clayton County, marking the first time that the transportation authority has operated outside its home bases of DeKalb and Fulton counties.
The expansion follows a November vote where Clayton residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of a 1% sales tax to bring MARTA to the county. The three routes currently in operation will be expanded to ten by the end of 2015.
Clayton County, which has not had any form of public transportation since its old bus service, C-Tran, was shut down in 2010, should provide for heavy ridership numbers. With poverty numbers in the county higher than their neighbors to the north, the bus service will grant ease of transportation to many of the 7.2% of Clayton residents who don’t have access to a car. Clayton was the only of Atlanta’s five core counties to be without public transit.
Don’t expect MARTA expansion to stop here, though. Half of the money raised by the new sales tax increase will be set aside for future use, whether that is commuter rail or some similar sort of high speed-high capacity service remains to be seen.