Troubles with MARTA

Troubles with MARTA

Now, as many folks know, I’m not a huge of fan.  And I have a right to an opinion since I ride it at least twice a day, five days a week and have been doing so since I moved here in 2002.   I’ve ridden public train/tram systems in D.C., Boston, New York, Strasbourg, and Paris–I have several points of comparison.  MARTA is inefficient as a whole.  It has oodles of bus lines and only 3.5 train lines.  The bus stops aren’t even well-marked.  You have to study the website to understand routes and times.  The Southbound train to the airport comes much more frequently than both Northbound trains put together.  There have been times that during lunch if it’s nice outside, I’ll just choose to walk to my destination because waiting for a train sucks up all of my time.

Please understand that I know all about densities and demand and the like–but Georgia, particularly Metro Atlanta, hasn’t created the right incentives to get people off the road and to get places like Cobb and Gwinnett off their fannies to cooperate rail-wise, instead of depending on all these dern buses that folks don’t want to ride anyhow.  I think, for the most part, MARTA is doing what it can with what it has.  The state of Georgia needs to and move into the 20th (yes, I meant to say that, and not the 21st) century and realize that transportation can make or break this state.  Atlanta is the money maker for the state, and I can’t for the life of me understand why the establishment will stop spending so much time worrying that Atlanta has too much power and spend its energy making sure that it grows in a sustainable manner that ensures competitiveness against other metro areas.

And now, due to the recession, the folks at MARTA are considering cutting a weekday of service.  Or most of the weekend.  Um…  people depend on MARTA to get to work.  Yes, I have a car, but I would have to pay for a full day of parking downtown, which is not a small fee.  And what about the many folks who don’t have cars??  What are they to do?  This article just announced that a bill that would free up some money so that they don’t have to stop service was left on the table when the legislative session ended.  So what will Gov. Perdue do?  Will a special session be called?  I doubt it, but we’ll see.

This has become an issue surrounding demographics because that’s what works in Georgia.  Yes, MARTA has become a saving grace for many low-income people who can’t afford cars in a geography that has designed everything around cars.  But, MARTA can be so much more.  There are already several people who live intown or who just can’t deal with the traffic or who would rather read in the mornings and the afternoons than drive or who don’t want to pay to park to go to the airport or to sports events.  If Georgia creates a condusive environment for the investment of the infrastructure that MARTA needs to become a robust system that the average person can rely on to get around the huge land mass that is metropolitan Atlanta, I know that MARTA will defeat some of the stereotypes that exist about its ridership and will become a distinctive asset to a thriving metro.

Something needs to be done about transportation in Atlanta ASAP.  Making our “regional” transit system efficient and competitive with those of other metropolitan areas should be a top priority.  As ugly as traffic is in Atlanta and as bad as our smog can be, there are several reasons  that transforming MARTA into the transportation hub it should be is imperative.  The first step would be allowing MARTA to use its capital reserves to weather this economic crisis without adversely affecting its ridership.

{UPDATE: 4/8 @ 9:16 a.m.}

I can’t BEGIN to tell you how pissed I am about this.

{UPDATE: 4/8 @ 9:31 a.m.}

I’ll be attending this press conference today.  Kudos to State Rep. Rashad Taylor for not letting it go.

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