Clayton County, Ga., votes in favor of joining MARTA

A MARTA train passes Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta in August 2014. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

Clayton County residents earlier this month voted in favor of joining MARTA.

Roughly three in four (74 percent) voted to levy a 1-cent tax to support MARTA service. With the vote, Clayton is the first county to join the transit system since its inception more than 40 years ago.

“This is a historic moment for MARTA, Clayton County and the region,” MARTA Board Chair Robert L. Ashe III said in a statement. “On behalf of my fellow Board members, I want to thank the voters of Clayton County who have demonstrated their confidence in MARTA to deliver high-quality transit service to their community. We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to prove once again that MARTA is well worth the public investment.”

Earlier this year, Clayton County commissioners voted to put the binding MARTA referendum on the November ballot. Clayton County residents have been without public transportation since budget cuts led to the shutdown of the C-Tran bus system in 2010.

“Officially welcoming Clayton is an incredible anniversary present for MARTA as we continue to celebrate 35 years of combined bus and rail service in metro Atlanta,” MARTA GM/CEO Keith T. Parker said in a statement. “Starting as soon as March 2015, MARTA will bring affordable, reliable transit customer-focused service to the citizens of Clayton County.”

Collection of the 1 percent sales tax will begin in March 2015. While MARTA will initially serve the county with buses, the transit system is exploring the addition of rail service in the future.