The ATL: Making it easier for people within the metro Atlanta region to travel from where they are to where they want or need to be

On Thursday, May 3, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation that created a regional transit governance and funding structure: The Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, or the ATL.

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Scott Haggard
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The ATL is attached to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) for shared administrative resources and is governed by a 16-member board. Ten of these members represent 10 new, specially created Transit Districts and are chosen by a combination of county commission chairs and a caucus of local legislative delegations. One mayor, to be selected by a caucus of mayors from the municipalities located within each district, also sits on the board. The board’s chair is appointed by the governor and the vice-chair is selected annually by a vote of the board members. Two board members are appointed by the speaker of the House and two board members are appointed by the lieutenant governor. The commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Transportation will sit on the board as an ex-officio, non-voting member. GRTA and State Road and Tollway Authority Executive Director Christopher Tomlinson serves as the ATL’s interim director.

See Board Members Below:

Charlie Sutlive, Chairman

See Full Bio

Charlie Sutlive, Chairman, appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal
Sutlive is the director of corporate communication at Georgia Power. In this role, he provides strategic support for the company’s external and internal communications. Sutlive was previously the vice chancellor for communications and governmental affairs for the University System of Georgia (USG) and led the development and execution of communications, public affairs and economic development plans for USG’s 26 colleges and universities. He has held multiple leadership positions for some of the largest and most recognizable companies in the world, including MCI, which is now part of Verizon Communications, McKesson and Coca-Cola North America. Sutlive sat on the boards of Leadership Georgia, the REACH Georgia Foundation, the Jekyll Island Foundation and the Smithgall Woods Foundation. He is also a graduate of Leadership Georgia. Sutlive earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Georgia.

Earl Ehrhart

Effective January 14, 2019

See Full Bio

Rep. Earl Ehrhart, appointed by Speaker of the House David Ralston
Ehrhart is the CEO of Taylor English Decisions. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1988 and will conclude his service as a member of the General Assembly in January 2019. As a member of the House, Ehrhart served as the Minority Whip, Chairman of the Rules Committee and Chairman of Higher Education Appropriations Committee. A businessman and entrepreneur, he was previously the executive vice president of the Facility Group and CEO of LakePoint Sports Development Group. Ehrhart and his wife, Ginny McCormack Ehrhart, have six children between them.

Teddy Russell

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Teddy Russell, appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle
Russell is a co-owner and the president of Russell Landscape. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. Russell and his wife, Courtney, have three children and reside in Atlanta.

Russell R. McMurry, P.E.

See Full Bio

On Jan. 20, 2015, Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. was appointed by the State Transportation Board to lead the Georgia Department of Transportation – the $3 billion, 4000-employee state agency responsible for building, maintaining and operating the 10th largest transportation system in the country. McMurry began his career with the Department in 1990, as an engineering trainee and has served in a variety of roles that include Construction Project Manager, District Engineer, Director of Engineering and Chief Engineer. McMurry was also appointed by Governor Deal as Planning Director before he began his role as Commissioner. He graduated Cum Laude from Georgia Southern University with a Bachelor’s degree and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Georgia. Commissioner Russell McMurry currently serves as board member for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and the State Depository Board. He also chairs the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Performance Management

Mark Toro

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Mark Toro, appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle
Toro is a co-founder of North American Properties’ Atlanta office. He previously served in several leadership positions with Faison and Cousins Properties. Toro has acquired, developed or redeveloped more than 70 projects totaling almost 30 million square feet. He attended Rutgers University. Toro and his wife, Nancy, have two children and three grandchildren.

Charlotte Nash

See Full Bio

Charlotte J. Nash, appointed by Speaker of the House David Ralston
Nash is the chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners. She was elected countywide to this position in March 2011 and was reelected in 2012 and 2016.  Nash previously worked for the Gwinnett County government for 28 years and retired as the county manager in 2004. She sits on the Atlanta Regional Commission Board and chairs the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Board. Nash is a former president of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. She and her husband, Michael, have two children and two grandchildren. They reside in Dacula.

The Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (Chris Tomlinson) shall serve as a temporary director until the board is constituted and an executive director is appointed by such board.

The legislation was sponsored by the following:

  • Senator Brandon Beach
  • Representative Kevin Tanner
  • Representative Calvin Smyre
  • Representative Christian Coomer
  • Representative Jason Shaw
  • Representative Mary Margaret Oliver
  • Representative Meagan Hanson

Click to see legislation:


The ATL was created as a new regional governance and funding structure, to improve coordination, integration and efficiency of transit in metro Atlanta.  A regional transit plan encompassing all transit projects and initiatives will be developed, containing access to new funding sources for activities within it.

The structure of the ATL is comprised of five essential components.

The ATL in 5 Parts


1. Regional Governance
A 16-member Board of Directors will be named by Dec. 1, 2018. Members will serve four-year terms. The Board will be comprised of:

2.Transit Funding
The ATL improves access to transit funding and expands transit-specific local sales and use tax (TSPLOST). Counties within the ATL can hold a referendum to raise an additional sales tax of up to 1 percent for up to 30 years.

3.Regional Transit Plan
A core activity of the ATL will be the development of a regional transit plan developed for six and 20-year time horizons. The plan will be developed in consultation with the region’s metropolitan planning organizations.

4.Interaction with Existing Transit Operators
Current providers – particularly MARTA – have their current operational and funding autonomy preserved. MARTA is the sole provider of heavy rail in the region.

5.Regional Unified Branding
As of Jan. 1, 2019, new MARTA assets greater than $250,000 must display the ATL brand. By Jan. 1, 2023, all transit systems must use the unified logo and brand.

Planning and Funding

The regional transit plan is one of two core activities for the ATL. It will serve as the official multiyear plan for transit services and facilities for a 13-county area – Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale.

Regional stakeholders, including local governments, may submit requests to the ATL for additions and amendments to the plan based on changing conditions.  After Jan. 1, 2019, referendum transit projects must be in the plan and approved by the ATL.

The ATL will oversee all federal and state transit funds in the region, which is its second core activity. Counties within the ATL can hold a referendum to raise an additional sales tax of up to 1 percent for up to 30 years. Counties outside of 13-county region can pair together to use new T-SPLOST authority.

The ATL can issue its own bonds and work with other state agencies to issue bonds.

Special provisions are included for Gwinnett, Cobb and Fulton counties.

  • Gwinnett County – can hold a TSPLOST referendum on joining MARTA via contract at any time
  • Cobb County – can create a special district within Cobb, hold a TSPLOST referendum and enter into a contract with MARTA to provide transit services within such special district at any time up to Dec. 1, 2019
  • Cobb and Gwinnett – have the same options to join MARTA as existed prior to HB 930
  • Fulton County – can hold a referendum for additional a 0.2 percent sales tax for transit

All existing transit agencies still exist and will continue to exist. These include MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, the State Road and Tollway Authority, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Gwinnett County Transit, CobbLinc, CATS and others.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority ,will have with exclusive authority for operating region’s existing heavy rail system, including any new heavy rail projects. MARTA controls its current local funding and federal formula funding, and its legal contractual obligations are unaffected.

The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s (GRTA) authority over the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP, the Developments of Regional Impact and the Governor’s Development Council remain intact as they exist today.

The ATL is administratively attached to GRTA. GRTA’s role in regional transit transitions to the ATL no later than July 1, 2020.

The State Road and Tollway Authority’s (SRTA) tolling, Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank ,and transportation financing roles remain intact.

SRTA’s GO! Transit program will be coordinated with the ATL. SRTA’s role in regional transit operations transitions to the ATL no later than July 1, 2021.

The Atlanta Regional Commission and the ATL will work closely together to revise current regional transit process. They also will work to ensure that the regional transit plan aligns and integrates with TIP and STP processes and funding.

Gwinnett County, CobbLinc and the Cherokee Area Transportation System (CATS) have many options going forward.

Make it easier for people within metro Atlanta to go from where they are to where they want or need to be within the region.

The benefits to visitors and residents of metro Atlanta are numerous. With the ATL, the state of Georgia will be able to:

  • Plan strategic transit expansion projects within the region.
  • Mesh the current service offerings into a connected network of options for current and potential customers
  • Combine existing public transportation resources with innovative partnerships with private sector providers, such as rideshare companies and technology providers
  • Increase the seamlessness of the customer experience
  • Address first mile and last mile connectivity gaps
  • To Improve overall value for the end user
  • Transition from providing segmented trips where we plan in silos defined by modes to providing integrated journeys across multiple travel modes where and when it makes sense

Transit District Board Member Election Process

HB 930 creates a process for electing 10 Board Members for the new ATL (Atlanta-region Transit  Link Authority), which involves multiple elected officials throughout 10 different “Transit Districts”  that intentionally cross county boundaries. ATL Board members, according to HB 930, must be  elected no later than December 1, 2018. Click on the links below to view the Board Member election process by Transit District:

Click Here to FIND Your Transit District.

If your organization or agency is looking to learn more about the ATL, you can request a speaker.


The ATL in the News

Upcoming Events

ATL Transit Authority District 1 Mayoral Caucus |

Donnie Henriques, (Woodstock) has been selected to serve as the mayoral representative.

ATL Transit Authority District 2 Mayoral Caucus |

Buford City Commission Chair Phillip Beard selected to serve as the mayoral representative.

ATL Transit Authority District 3 Mayoral Caucus |

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul has been selected to serve as the mayoral representative.

ATL Transit Authority District 4 Mayoral Caucus |

Al Thurman, (Powder Springs) has been selected to serve as the mayoral representative.

ATL Transit Authority District 5 Mayoral Caucus

John Ernst, Mayor of Brookhaven, was selected to serve as the District 5 mayoral rep.

ATL Transit Authority District 6 Mayoral Caucus |

Jimmy Burnette, (Suwanee) selected to serve as the mayoral representative.

ATL Transit Authority District 7 Mayoral Caucus |

Pat Wheeler, (Stone Mountain) has been  selected to serve as the mayoral representative.

ATL Transit Authority District 8 Mayoral Caucus | Tuesday. Sept. 11, 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday. Sept. 11, 10:00 a.m.

Miller Zell

6100 Fulton Industrial Blvd.

Atlanta, GA 30336

ATL Transit Authority District 9 Mayoral Caucus |

Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day selected to serve as the mayoral representative

ATL Transit Authority District 10 Mayoral Caucus |

Steve Hutchinson, (Hampton) has been  selected to serve as the mayoral representative.