When our customers speak, MARTA listens. On the hot topic of new rail cars, we’re hearing you loud and clear -- again!

For the second time this year, we’re asking riders to provide feedback to choose key features for MARTA’s new rail car fleet.

In May, more than 1,300 people participated in the first phase of the “Your Ride, You Decide” campaign, providing valuable input on the rail cars’ interior including items such as seating, signage, hand holds, bike and stroller areas, luggage areas and planned Americans with Disability Act/accessibility enhancements. (Keep reading for more on the earlier results.)

 This time, starting on September 9, MARTA invites riders to offer their opinions on the exterior “look-and-feel" of the rail cars based on four exciting graphic design themes, each with two options to choose from: Minimalist, Flowing Ribbons, Neighborhoods, and Tracks.  

To rate and/or leave comments about the graphic designs, you will need to create a free account on Qmarkets, our online crowdsourcing platform. If you’ve participated in the first round of MARTA rail car design outreach, log in using the same username and password. If you do not already have an account, please click here to create one. Please email railcars@itsmarta.com with any questions.  


During the campaign, MARTA will also conduct in-person surveys for the graphic designs at rail stations near you. We’ll post the results and provide information about upcoming opportunities to weigh-in on additional rail car features.

MARTA is investing $646 million on new rail cars to ensure we’re ready to meet metro Atlanta’s future transportation needs. This historic undertaking will eventually replace all of our existing rail cars.

Granted, engineers and other experts are responsible for making sure the vehicles can be operated safely, securely and cost-effectively for decades to come. Before finalizing the rail car design, however, MARTA also needed input from the “rail-life” experts -- our customers.  

We’re glad we asked.

 About 17,000 votes were cast by customers in the first phase of the outreach effort who ranked their preferences on a scale of one-to-five stars. Customers submitted more than 700 comments using the online crowdsourcing platform and by completing in-person surveys at rail stations.

Based on customer responses, the most popular interior rail car features were:

  • Digital line maps (4.7 stars)
  • Next station displays (4.5 stars)
  • ADA accessible seating proximity to doorways (4.5 stars)
  • ADA accessible signage (4.4 stars)
  • Destination displays (4.4 stars)

Thanks to robust customer feedback, MARTA’s staff is gaining valuable insights that are guiding the decision-making about the form and function of the new rail cars.

For example, as a result of previous rider input, passenger seats will be more accommodating; rail cars will offer more options for people who are standing or seated; printed rail maps will still be used alongside more dynamic digital signs; dedicated spaces for passengers using wheelchairs will optimize entry and exit; and there will be specially marked areas for bicycles and strollers.

The online commentary about the interior rail car features reflects the rich diversity of MARTA’s ridership and sparked lively and thoughtful conversations. Riders’ comments ranged from serious to playful, pragmatic to inventive, and from the cosmopolitan to the proudly Atlanta-centric.

“Ask local musicians to contribute a 5-second melody for each station's arrivals and departures,” posted Chad Miller on the topic of digital line displays.

On the possibility of using low-profile handholds, commenter Debbie Newmark was one of many riders who strongly preferred the more traditional floor-to-ceiling versions that are currently in use.

“When the train lurches, hips will be bruised, and bags and bodies could maim low-holding hands,” Newmark warned.  “Your hold point should always be above the waist.”

Cyclist Eric Ayers was enthusiastic about the option of reserving areas for bikes on the rail cars.

“I commute to work on a bicycle and sometimes it is late or raining so I take my bicycle on the train,” Ayers posted. “But when I do so I always feel like I'm getting in the way of other riders. Having a reserved area would make me feel like a 'first class citizen' when riding with my bicycle.”

MARTA Customer Carden Wyckoff is experienced travelling on other transit systems and favors designated areas near doorways for wheelchair users, such as her.

“D.C. Metro and [Bay Area Rapid Transit] have this and people respect the space and move out the way,” Wyckoff posted. “Proximity is very important.”

MARTA appreciates your support and is looking forward to continuing working with you on this project and many others that are improving our transit system and making metro Atlanta an even better place to live.

Raising the Bar

MARTA’s next generation of rail cars will build upon new technology and advance safety and security for all customers. The goal is to expand comfort and convenience elements to create a reimagined transit experience.

Each new set of rail cars will feature an open gangway design with modernized electronic signage and public address system, more comfortable seating plus handholds and stanchions with better functionality, wheelchair locations, charging stations, luggage space and enhanced video surveillance. 

The new rail cars will also interface with other investments aimed at enhancing the customer experience such as MARTA’s new integrated operations center, new station audio-visual information upgrade, systemwide elevator and escalator upgrade, restroom modernization program and station rehabilitation program which will refresh MARTA stations. 

We’re doing this to raise the bar. Gathering your input now will help us deliver a rail car the improves the rider experience. Nothing means more to us than having you as a happy customer. Check out the initial graphic rail car exteriors in this presentation to get a glimpse of MARTA’s future.

How This All Began

In 2019 MARTA’s board of directors approved a $646 million agreement with Stadler Rail for the purchase of new rail cars. The procurement, which is the single largest for either organization, is a milestone in MARTA’s capital improvement program aimed at more efficient performance and enhanced customer experience. The rail cars are scheduled to be delivered between 2023 and 2028, with the delivery of a pilot car in 2023.

As the MARTA system grew between 1979 and 2000, MARTA had procured rail cars three times previously – in 1979, 1985 and 2003. The Stadler procurement, however, will mark the first time that all previously purchased cars will be retired.

Stadler has manufactured trains since 1942. A Switzerland-based manufacturer with U.S. operations in Salt Lake City, Utah, the organization is committed to meeting the specific needs of their clients and employing innovative technologies to customize features that improve performance and passenger comfort.

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