The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is the ninth-largest transit system in the nation and serves an average of more than 550,000 passengers a day.

Civic leaders first promoted a rapid transit system in the 1950s, less than a decade after retiring the last electric streetcar. A referendum passed in 1971 by voters in DeKalb and Fulton Counties, and the city of Atlanta authorized the creation of MARTA. In February 1972, MARTA purchased the Atlanta Transit System for $12.9 million and assumed control of the area’s primary bus transportation network.

Through the 1970s, MARTA received grants of more than $800 million from the federal government for planning, design, land acquisition, and rail construction, which began in 1975. The University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute estimates that MARTA is responsible for $2.6 billion in annual economic activity and supports 24,000 jobs in metro Atlanta as of 2015.

MARTA Token box, ca. 1979.

Courtesy of Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)

Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center, Duane L. Cronk Photographs

Next: 41 Robert W. Woodruff.

In 1919, Ernest Woodruff led a group of investors in purchasing the Coca-Cola Company from Asa Candler.