The City of Sandy Springs has passed a resolution to adopt the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody Transit Signal Priority Implementation Plan.

The plan is part of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, which is a competitive one-year program that supports local governments within the State of Georgia by providing grant funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice and a network of peers. Successful participants leverage these resources to explore, study, and plan for the use, deployment, and/or integration of smart community technologies into their jurisdictions and operations.

“Reliable, on-time public transportation is a critical component of the City’s infrastructure,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “Moving forward with this transit signal priority plan keeps the City on the cutting edge using technology to improve its functions and citizen services.”

Sandy Springs was selected by Georgia Tech to participate in the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge Class of 2020-2021 in September 2020 for a Streamlining Suburban Transit project that deployed a pilot test of transit signal priority technology. This project was a true partnership between Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, MARTA, Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The Streamlining Suburban Transit project was completed in September 2021. This proof of concept pilot study successfully tested the functionality of the technology and identified impacts based on before and after data. The Sandy Springs and Dunwoody Transit Signal Priority Implementation Plan takes into consideration the findings from the pilot study, national and regional best practices, and stakeholder input to develop next steps to move forward with transit improvements in the cities.

The project allowed Sandy Springs to leverage existing infrastructure to test a new method of transit signal priority in order to improve transit reliability and reduce transit trip times. TSP typically extends a green signal for approaching buses that are running behind schedule, or will shorten the amount of time the bus will have to wait at a red signal. It does not override the system like an emergency vehicle preemption call would do.

TSP has been deployed within the Atlanta Metropolitan region, but only through methods where there was infrastructure on the transit vehicles communicating with the traffic signal system. This pilot project was innovative in that it did not require on-board units for communication; rather the signal system was able to access the bus information it needed from an application programming interface. Transit agencies, such as MARTA, were particularly interested in this project because there are maintenance and operational challenges to having the equipment on the bus so an API solves some of these issues.

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