MARTA to unveil new buses in festive event reminiscent of its glory days

By David Pendered

As part of its new effort to promote the positive, MARTA on Thursday will display one of its new CNG buses at the Five Points Station.

MARTA predecessor, Atlanta Transit Co., operated this type of bus in the 1950s

Yesteryear: MARTA’s predecessor, the Atlanta Transit Co., drove this type of vehicle in the 1950s. File/Credit:

MARTA, not wanting to spoil the surprise, is not releasing photos of the new buses until after the event, which is slated from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The buses feature an updated logo and eye-catching elements, according to a MARTA statement.

The festivity of displaying the bus harkens to an era when the region celebrated the opening of transit stations and the arrival of new vehicles. Top MARTA officials are slated to convene an official welcoming ceremony from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Since arriving in Atlanta late last year, General Manager Keith Parker has made it a point to be upbeat when he talks about the transit system in public.

“We have to change things,” Parker said in August at a meeting of Georgia Stand-Up, referring to the system’s expenses and other matters. “In our [current year] budget, we are investing in three areas – customers, employees, and financial stability.”

Customer satisfaction is one aim of the new buses. Better performance is another goal, one that’s defined by lower operating costs that come with greater efficiency.

Yesterday: MARTA's fleet is festooned with money-making advertising and most are propelled by CNG. Credit:

Yesterday: MARTA’s fleet is festooned with money-making advertising and most are propelled by CNG. Credit:

MARTA described amenities provided by the new buses that include:

  • Surveillance cameras capable of recording inside and outside the bus;
  • Fire suppression systems governed by thermal and optical sensors;
  • LED lights in the interior, which are brighter than conventional lights but use less energy;
  • Ergonomic seating;
  • Larger window openings;
  • Greater headroom at the rear exit door, which is wider than on current buses.

MARTA has awarded a contract for a total of 265 buses, measuring 30 feet and 40 feet. All will be propelled by compressed natural gas. Most of MARTA’s fleet is now CNG fueled.

The first batch of 88 buses is expected to be delivered by the end of this year, according to a report in, a trade publication for the transit industry. The order is to include eight low floor CNG 30-foot buses, and 80 of the 40-foot buses, according to another trade publication,

MARTA’s bus contract provides an option for the purchase of an additional 177 CNG buses to be provided over the course of three years, according to

The new buses are being built by New Flyer. MARTA did not release a contract price for the purchase.

In a statement released by New Flyer in June, after it won the contract, company President/CEO Paul Soubry said:

  • “We value our relationship with MARTA and commend them on their environmental commitments. MARTA has become a great example of a green transit company. Not only do they work hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the city, they strive to offer an efficient and enjoyable means of travel in order to expand its base of transit users and reduce traffic congestion.”

In the same statement, MARTA COO Rich Krisak said:

  • “We are excited to bring these New Flyer buses on board to enhance service to our customers. These buses, which will replace vehicles that have reached retirement age, are equipped with advanced technology to provide an overall better, more reliable transit experience.”


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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