The Social and Economic Importance of Transit in the Atlanta Region

EBP, working with Foursquare ITP, developed the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority’s (ATL) second Annual Report and Audit (ARA). The ATL is a collaborative transit planning, coordination and policy oversight body for the transit systems operating within the 13-county Atlanta metro area. The annual report, required by state law that established the ATL in 2018, provides a comprehensive picture of transit in the region, illustrating the performance and benefits of the metro area’s transit services.

For the second ARA, EBP analyzed and documented the regional benefits and economic impacts of transit in the Atlanta region. This included analyses of the jobs and business sales supported by transit budgetary expenditures and the role transit plays in supporting economic development and providing affordable mobility options. EBP also quantified the sustainability benefits of transit in terms of avoided emissions—both from current transit operations and from potential future vehicle electrification scenarios.

In the 2020 report, EBP conducted analyses especially aimed at understanding the role of public transit in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This include analyzing how public transit in the region allows people to access essential destinations: jobs, medical services, and food stores. EBP also related this accessibility analysis to equity indicators in the region to determine how access varies for specific population groups. In addition, EBP assessed the relationship between the transit market and telecommuting potential, using detailed information on transit commuters by occupation. This revealed that many of the jobs held by transit commuters require in-person presence.

To document the importance of transit through the pandemic, and the response of transit agencies working to ensure the safety of riders and workers, EBP led a targeted interview process with transit operators and with key stakeholders. Drawing on information collected through this process, EBP outlined key considerations for post pandemic recovery.