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Posts tagged with MARTA

June 21st marks the 7th annual National Dump the Pump Day. Across the country, commuters are being encouraged to hang up their car keys and ride transit instead. Participants will see how transit can help make a daily commute easier and less stressful, and save money on gas and car upkeep.

According to APTA’s recent Transit Saving Report, a two-person household can save, on average, more than $10,000 a year by downsizing to one car. The estimate is based on current gas prices, monthly parking rates and a person purchasing a 30-day Breeze Pass for MARTA.

On Wednesday the 13th, MARTA held an awareness event at the Five Points station promoting Dump the Pump Day. The Atlanta Dream mascot, Star, made an appearance, along with a prize wheel where spinners had a chance to win Breeze Cards, Atlanta Dream tickets and tons of other prizes. The event encouraged current MARTA riders to spread the word about the Dump the Pump Day.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2011, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on transit
  • Using transit is the quickest way to beat high gas prices
  • Transit has a proven record of reducing congestion
  • In 2010, U.S. transit use saved 796 million hours in travel time and 303 million gallons of fuel in 439 urban areas
  • A single commuter switching his or her commute to transit can reduce a household’s carbon emission by 10%

MARTA runs 5 AM to 1:30 AM Monday through Friday and 5 AM to 12:30 AM on weekends and holidays.  Click here to see the MARTA transit and which bus or rail station is most convenient for you.  If MARTA doesn't work for your commute, maybe Cobb County Transit (CCT), Gwinnett County Transit (GCT) or GRTA Xpress will work for you.



Recently, I set out on a grand experiment: to utilize MARTA as much as possible for four straight weeks. The first two weeks, my goal was to act as if I didn’t have any other mode of transportation. If I needed to get somewhere, I was taking MARTA.
 
After a bumpy first day, which saw me miss the very first bus I was scheduled to take, things ultimately improved, and I often surprised myself with my ability to get around town whether it be by foot, bus or train. Early in my experiment, I immediately noticed numerous benefits to ditching my car. Not only did I have more time to read, tweet and blog, I also felt less stress due to not having to sit in horrible traffic each morning. One thing I did miss on my journey, however, was all my stuff. You never realize how much stuff you can fit into a car until it is no longer an option. You quickly learn to carry only the essentials.
 
During the last two weeks of my experiment, I approached MARTA as if I was a commuter with a car. Having a car allowed me to sleep in two more hours each morning. It also allowed me to keep to my timetable a lot easier. If a bus was scheduled to leave at 8:15 a.m., I could get there just before it was ready to leave. Walking to a bus or train can be a little unpredictable.
 
During my journey I was surprised by how easy it was to use MARTA and how friendly its staff was. I was also surprised by how many people actually take advantage of MARTA on a daily basis. It seemed like each time I got on a bus or train, it was at capacity. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned during my experiment was that preparation is everything when it comes to using public transportation. Remember the first bus I missed?
 
If you live along one of the train corridors, I would urge you to take MARTA more often. The sustainability community especially should make the commitment. Biking, walking, carpooling and other forms of mass transit all offer options for consideration. With the cost of gas and the peace of mind I get from not dealing with traffic, it's worth it. Being in the car again seems even more stressful after breezing along the train corridors.
 
So let me encourage you: commit to using a commute alternative at least one day a week. If you already are, that’s great.  But if not, give it a try. Think about the change we could collectively make!

Beth Bond is the editor of Southeast Green. Having owned her own marketing company for over 15 years working with green companies, Beth knew the story of sustainability and green resided here in the Southeast. Since relaunching Southeast Green in September 2008, Bond has been establishing even broader liaisons and partners to help continue the story of green and sustainability.



MARTA's Five Points station was the site of a rally Tuesday evening that brought together union officials, MARTA leadership, patrons and even the Rev. Jesse Jackson to raise awareness of the funding constraints that exist between maintaining existing operations and expanding service.

Against a backdrop of transit union workers donning t-shirts that read "Save Our Ride" -- and some wearing dust masks to decry the region's air quality issues, which would become worse without transit -- speakers made the case for greater control over transit dollars.

Facing reductions in service that could begin as soon as July 1 because of funding shortfalls, MARTA is asking for more flexibility in how it spends its money.

"It makes no sense," said Warren George, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, about the funding requirements. "It makes no sense to take a bus off the road and put 40 cars on the road."

"Public transit protects our environment," echoed Harry Lombardo, executive vice president of the Transit Workers Union of America. "A train or bus is the cleanest, greenest way to get from Point A to Point B."

Jesse Jackson offered up a good analogy: Atlanta has five major arteries (Cobb, Clayton, Dekalb, Fulton, Gwinnett). MARTA is the heart of metro ATL transit, but only two of the arteries have been working (Dekalb, Fulton), referring to the penny sales tax in those counties that subsidizes MARTA.

A grassroots virtual petition supporting transit nationwide, "Save Our Ride,"offers MARTA patrons a way to express their support for transit.

Transit union workers wore t-shirts at the MARTA rally to make the case for increased transit support.

Transit union workers and their families donned dust masks to call attention to the negative air quality impacts of reduced transit service.

Dr. Beverly Scott speaks at the Five Points MARTA station during last Tuesday's rally.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson took the podium to deliver an impassioned message about the vital role transit plays in Atlanta.

Attendees at the rally wore buttons encouraging support for transit by sending a text message.



MARTA is raising its fare on October 1. It's the second piece of fallout from the legislature's decision not to act on MARTA's budget shortfall during its last session. Even though the Atlanta Regional Commission ponied up some stimulus money, it still wasn't enough. So MARTA is raising its fares. The truth is I am not really upset about this. MARTA's monthly passes, which is what I primarily purchase, have been a steal at under $2.00 per day for unlimited bus and train for some time. I don't know anywhere else in the country where I can ride for that cheap, unlimited. So my pass will go from $52.50 for 30 days of unlimited rides to $60.00, or exactly $2.00 a day.

It's pretty easy to see why there is no way this $7.50 fare raise is going to affect me. It amounts to less than $1 per day, or to be charitable, less than $2 per work day. So in the end we are talking about the price of essentially one gallon of gas. And for anyone who has ever driven up and down the connector and Ga. 400 every day knows, you will burn a heck of a lot more than one gallon of gas in a daily round trip from North Ormewood, where I live, to Alpharetta, where I work.

Apart from it making economic sense for me to continue what I am doing, how could I ever put an eight dollar price tag on the sanity and found time that making this commute on MARTA gives me? I am actually writing this post right now from the #140 bus along North Point Parkway as I begin my journey home. Try doing that in a car. When I get to the train, I will stow the laptop and pull out this odd little thing called a book, which I will read right there on the train. In the almost two years I have been on MARTA now, I have never yelled at another patron (a frequent occurrence with other drivers whilst in my car) or made an obscene gesture. Try putting a price tag on that.

And of course I can afford it. I feel though for those who cannot.

The real tragedy here though, is the first part of the measure MARTA had to take. That went into effect over the summer with a lot less fanfare than the fare hikes are going to get and with consequences that are much more severe. I am talking about a whole host of service cuts to bus routes and trains, especially off-peak. I'd actually love to get rid of my car completely. And I would if MARTA was more frequent, but unfortunately it's not. Going anywhere off-peak on MARTA can usually take more than an hour and often two. It's unfortunate, but while bus coverage of the city is extensive, it isn't frequent.

What's funny is I am moderately libertarian. I often think the government should get out of the way and let markets vote on what people want. Transportation however is one of those areas where governments do have a roll. We all need it. All our lives are infinitely better, materially and existentially, with access to transportation. Building and maintaining roads has been a state function for a very long time. It's just too costly to run a comprehensive system of transportation. Public transportation is no different. Our city deserves to have good, reliable transportation. The service cuts fundamentally undercut that. If people can't get where they want, they won't ride. The less they ride, the more the system suffers. It suffers from a lack of support, a lack of money, a lack of interest.

It didn't have to be that way. The service cuts didn't have to happen. But politics got involved (of course it did, MARTA funding is a political decision), and unfortunately, those of us that ride and support this system are the ones that paid; in longer wait times, in less frequent service, and yes, in higher fares. But you paid too. Some people will give up. They will decide the longer wait isn't worth it anymore and get back in their car. They will be in their car and be in front of you on I-85.

So yes, I am still going to be riding. I love my MARTA, and it will take a lot to get me off of it.

But how many others hit their breaking strain?

James Hervey is the author of a blog on his MARTA ridership experiences and a regular contributor to http://atlanta.metblogs.com/. Each year, his sustained efforts at clean commuting have helped keep nearly four tons of pollution out of the air we breathe.



I never meant to develop the relationship I have today with public transportation; daily rider, avid fan, committed advocate. I owned (and still do) a gas guzzling SUV that I dutifuly drove every day up and down the downtown connector and Georgia 400 from my house in North Ormewood in the heart of Atlanta to my office in Alpharetta. It all started because I had to go to the bathroom.

Let me explain - it was just a Friday like any other. I was planning to go to the Hawks game and had left my office at somewhere around 3:40. I knew Friday traffic would be bad; really bad, and I wanted to get home, change, eat something and get to the game. That afternoon traffic was worse than I could have imagined. I waited in the usual places, but then I got to the tollbooth at GA 400 and it stopped. And the line crawled. The worst part was I had to go to the bathroom. I had to go and I saw no relief. We were crawling toward the Sidney Marcus exit and it looked like we would never, ever get there. As I sat there, about to freak out, I watched the MARTA trains roll over head and thought, "there has to be a better way."

It took me more than 2 hours to get home that night, and by the time the weekend ended, I had mapped out my route. Drive to Inman Park, take the train to North Springs, get on the #140 bus and get to the office.

That morning was crazy. I got up super early and nervously began my trek. I was going to ride a BUS. I had never considered this before, the fact that I had to ride a bus was always the deal-breaker for me. But I did it that morning. I made it and I made it so much more relaxed. And then going home. Wow. What a difference.

I never looked back. By the end of the week I bought a monthly pass. I have only driven to my office rarely since that day, more that 18 months ago. I added the bus in front of my house to my repetoire a few weeks later and now my commute almost never involves a car (I'll admit, some days I drive to the train station when I need my car right after work.) I have taken MARTA all over Fulton and Dekalb, ridden buses to Stone Mountain, Buckhead, Downtown, everywhere. I chuckle to think there was a time when I wouldn't consider a bus. I am chuckling even more when I realize I am writing this on a 3G card from the front seat of the #140 as I ride home.

I love my MARTA. The only regret I have is that I didn't realize it for years. I wish I could have all those wasted hours sitting on the connector back.

I can't, but maybe I can convince you to give it a try and save those hours for yourself ;-)

James Hervey is the author of a blog on his MARTA ridership experiences and a regular contributor to http://atlanta.metblogs.com/. Each year, his sustained efforts at clean commuting have helped keep nearly four tons of pollution out of the air we breathe.



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