MARTA: My Four-Week Experiment
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.