Douglas County’s New Master Transit Plan

On Thursday, February 1st, 2024, the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL) reviewed transit plans for Gwinnett, Cobb, and Douglas counties, among other agenda items. A first ATL readthrough of Douglas’ new Master Transit Plan was completed, a 30-day public comment period has opened, and the ATL board will reconvene on April 4th for a final vote. If Douglas’ Plan is approved, the Atlanta Regional Transit Plan would be amended to include any new projects.

Douglas County Master Transit Plan

Douglas’ Master Transit Plan was “a year long effort” completed in December 2023, says Connect Douglas Director Ronald M. Roberts Jr. Page 4 of the Plan lists contributors to the Technical Advisory Committee and Steering Committee, key stakeholders, and a consulting team made up of RS&H, The Collaborative Firm, Nelson Nygaard, TransPro, and Blue Cypress Consulting. The Plan considered the County’s recent Comprehensive Plan (2018), Comprehensive Transportation Plan (2021), and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (2023), which was updated just a couple months prior. Other planning documents by the ATL and surrounding cities/counties were also reviewed.

Our Highlights

  • The Plan’s listed results are: 100% county-wide transit, a 180% increase in population with access to transit, a 32% increase in jobs with access to transit, and improved access for vulnerable populations.
  • Douglas County currently offers its residents a fixed route bus service, ADA paratransit services, commuter-work trip vanpools, Xpress bus service to Atlanta, and mobility assistance for senior adults and disabled individuals. According to the Master Transit Plan, however, more infrastructure and options are needed to service nearly 18,000 workers with daily commutes outside the County.

 

Existing Regional Transit Network in Douglas County
  • The Plan analyzes current demand for transit and where future demand is most needed; the greatest concentrations of people and jobs are in and around Douglasville and Austell. Connect Douglas also lays out its significant outreach and engagement efforts with the community. After consideration of the existing needs and anecdotal recommendations by constituents, the team identified six goals: promote local and regional connectivity; enhance mobility for all travelers through equitable transit investments; leverage transportation to enhance community health and quality of life; promote economic growth by coordinating transportation investments with land use; provide safe and accessible transportation facilities for all; and maximize operational and service efficiencies.
  • The draft strategy prioritizes “the needs of different user groups” with various modes of mobility that include 1) fixed route improvements, 2) a network of mictrotransit service zones, 3) demand response service in rural areas, and 4) direct connect service for regional connections. Connect Douglas wants to enhance intra-county connectivity with existing and proposed CobbLinc routes, existing MARTA bus routes and the MARTA rail system, existing rural services in Carroll County, and the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Notably, Direct Connect would provide an all-day, bi-directional connection across Douglas County to the H.E. Holmes MARTA station.
  • The strategy would employ a phased approach. Short-term (1-2 years) fixed routes would include Route 1, Route 20, Route 40, and New Route 50, all with 60 minute headway. Mid-term (3-5 years) would add HE Holmes Direct Connect with 60-minute headway. Long-term (6-20 years) would decrease all short-term routes to a 30-minute headway and add an Airport Direct Connect at 60-minute headway.

    Proposed Microtransit Network
  • Chapter 6 of the Plan lays out implementation and financial considerations. Federal funding is currently Connect Douglas’ largest source of funds, making up 80% of capital revenue and 39% of operating revenue. The Plan lays out a mixture of future funding strategies across federal, state & local, and alternative sources. Tools like a TSPLOST and CID are mentioned without elaboration. The short-term, mid-term, and long-term financial needs are also laid out in detail and by year, but no “final big number” is given, as this Master Transit Plan remains a planning concept rather than a concrete, funded plan., according to our sources. See below for operating and capital costs rundowns by investment type.

  • The Plan concludes with why Connect Douglas should move forward with implementation: 1) economic impact, 2) traffic and congestion, 3) independence and opportunity, 4) healthier communities.