MARTA rail cars are plunging into the ocean. Here's why

MARTA rail cars are plunging into the ocean. Here’s why


The Gist: Railcars from Atlanta’s MARTA system are getting a second life as they dive to the bottom of the ocean to form new artificial reefs.

What Happened?: Today marked the first step in MARTA’s new environmental venture, as one of two older railcars departed for Georgia’s coast. It’s all part of a plan to rejuvenate marine life in partnership with Georgia’s Reef Project. Richard Thomas, MARTA’s Director of Sustainability, said the move is both budget-friendly and good for Mother Earth.

By The Numbers:

  • 2: Number of MARTA railcars slated for oceanic deployment.
  • 55 to 65 feet: Depth where the railcars will rest, east of Ossabaw Island.
  • 23 nautical miles: Distance of Artificial Reef L from the coast.
  • 3 million square feet: Approximate total area of artificial reef created by Georgia’s Coastal Resources Division as of 2022.

Why It Matters: The railcars will add to an existing network of artificial reefs, providing crucial habitats for marine creatures. This includes sport fish and endangered sea turtles. The manmade substrate will grow natural encrusting organisms like corals and sponges, bolstering the ocean ecosystem.

What’s Next?: The first railcar arrives at Savannah’s East Coast Terminal in Savannah on Sept. 8. A second car will follow on Sept. 12. Once conditions permit, these railcars will be submerged and become part of Artificial Reef L, joining an eclectic underwater neighborhood that includes U.S. Army M-60 battle tanks and New York City subway cars.

The project serves as a unique disposal method for MARTA’s aging fleet, making room for the new CQ400 railcars. As Richard Thomas hinted, this might just be the beginning—so stay tuned for more railcars taking the plunge.

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