Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal in Atlanta moves forward

ATLANTA — State and city officials this week announced a $12.2 million public-private partnership to move forward with a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) in downtown Atlanta.

“The Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal will help transform how we move around our city and region,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a news release. “The MMPT will serve as the focal point for many existing and future transit networks. It is an important part of the overall effort to improve and expand public transportation in metropolitan Atlanta, and it will help our region maintain its competitive edge.”

The MMPT — which would potentially feature connections to Amtrak, MARTA, bus service and future high-speed rail lines — would be located in the so-called “Gulch” area near Philips Arena and CNN Center. The area was near the site of the former Terminal Station, which opened in 1905 and was razed in the 1970s; the Richard B. Russell building today stands on the former station’s site.

“It is a great day for Atlanta and the whole region,” U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said in a news release. “We have reached an important milestone in this development, and I look forward to returning in a few years for the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the MMPT.”

Meanwhile, Amtrak, which serves Atlanta with a daily train, is likely looking for a new station. Its current station in Atlanta, located on Peachtree Street near Interstate 85 at the Buckhead-Midtown line, is hindering the railroad’s ability to improve the performance of the one passenger train that serves the city, the railroad said in a September report.

The station is “woefully inadequate to meet the needs of Amtrak’s passengers and operations in our nation’s ninth largest metropolitan area,” the report noted. More than 112,000 passengers passed through the station during fiscal year 2010, an average of more than 305 per day.

In addition, the railroad is considering running shorter versions of the Crescent passenger train between Atlanta and New Orleans to save money because of lower ridership numbers, according to a recent report from the passenger railroad.