— A young man offered a young woman his seat (she declined).
— An older man thanked the young man for offering his seat to the young woman.
— Another young man complimented another young woman on her shoes.
— I braced myself for some shitty counterbalance, but nothing came.
Yay — I like good MARTA stories.
There’s an excellent piece on the successes and challenges of the Atlanta Beltline in the New York Times today: Now Atlanta Is Turning Old Tracks Green
I really like this quote from Mayor Kasim Reed:
“We are changing Atlanta into a city that you can enjoy by walking and riding a bike,” Mayor Kasim Reed said. “We have been so car-centric that you didn’t experience the city in an intimate way.”
It’s great for Atlanta to continue getting good national press about the Beltline. It validates our efforts to move the city beyond car-centric development and transportation, toward a healthier future. Exciting.
I was struck by this part about critics of the planned transit component of the Beltline:
“The BeltLine doesn’t go where people want or need to go,” said Michael Dobbins, an architecture professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has studied the project’s feasibility. “The parks and trails are great, but it makes no sense to add streetcars while traffic elsewhere is so bad, especially in this economy.”
I think it’s possible that the path would serve a good purpose as a cycling & pedestrian “last mile” route for commuters rather than a primary transit route.
But then a train connection to Ponce City Market makes so much sense, so I don’t know.
Anyway, be sure to read the full article.
Atlanta Beltline photo from Flickr user MamasLittleButterbean
The AJC’s Ariel Hart writes a good piece on the state of Atlanta’s transit proposals now that T-SPLOST funding chances are a distant memory.
Interestingly, it looks like there’s potential for streetcar expansion on the Atlanta Beltline through public-private partnerships. The image above shows what the corridor could look like with proposed rail spurs that stretch out into streets.
First, a nice quote on the various proposals and the underway downtown streetcar:
A new streetcar line is under construction and likely to open in 2014. The planned rail component of the Beltline, far from sinking to oblivion after the T-SPLOST, is the subject of intense talks for innovative private funding, and is even sprouting new proposed lines. Even the state, long stymied on transit, is taking the first steps toward a long-discussed transit hub downtown.
I’m intrigued by this idea, in another quote, that public-private funding could provide even more money to Beltline transit than the T-SPLOST could have:
[Mayor] Reed said he is “very confident” that a public-private partnership could yield more than the T-SPLOST proposed, up to $800 million.
If that ends up being true, the loss of funding from a 10-year regional tax might not be that bad of a thing — it may have pointed the way to a brighter future with a potentially more sustainable funding model.
Image of Beltline corridor transit design from Flickr user Atlanta Betline
A survey by the U.S. Census department shows, in concrete numbers, something that’s probably well known by anyone who rides transit here: white workers in the Atlanta metro are much less likely to use public transportation for commuting than other races. This follows a national trend in transit, but the difference is particularly stark in Atlanta.
Here are some numbers that expand on the the graphic above, both excerpted from a report on Transportation Nation:
IN THE ATLANTA METRO AREA
Whites make up:
25.6% of public transit commuters
59.6% of workers 16 and over
Blacks make up:
62.2% of public transit commuters
30.0% of workers 16 and over
Hispanics make up:
14.8% of public transit commuters
9.5% of workers 16 and over
Asians make up:
4.3% of public transit commuters
4.9% of workers 16 and over
Obviously, there are many factors in play here that help make these numbers what they are. Public transportation is not even available in many of the majority-White areas of the metro, so this doesn’t mean that metro Whites aren’t more willing to take transit. The establishment of the transit lines that exist was no doubt influenced by racial politics of the past, but a recent poll shows wide support for transit expansion in the metro.
From an AJC piece a few days ago, titled Poll: Trust the big roadblock to regional solutions:
Sixty-eight percent of Cobb and Gwinnett respondents supported “strongly or somewhat” expanding train service beyond Fulton and DeKalb; 39 percent supported it strongly. Only 22 percent in Cobb and Gwinnett opposed it strongly.
The numbers from the Census department are an interesting reflection of the current situation, though, and of the uphill battle transit has had in Atlanta when it comes to achieving a more widespread ridership that reflects the full diversity of the population.
[So this is my second post today about things the Atlanta Journal Constitution has to say about MARTA. I promise I’m not running out of ideas — it’s just a coincidence.]
The good news is that an AJC piece today has a nice report on an increase in the number of workers commuting with MARTA and the way the system serves as an economic engine:
The number of workers who depend on MARTA to get to their jobs — nearly 100,000 people — has tripled in the past five years, according to a just-released University of Georgia study.
The bad news is that the author of the piece felt it necessary to use this as a lede:
MARTA: Love it or hate it, more and more people need it.
Which I think is kinda sad — establishing that there’s significant hatred for the city’s transit system right up front. Is it true? Do that many Atlantans hate MARTA?
Well that’s a relief! In my highly-unscientific poll, MARTA wins out over the haters. Thanks to all who participated.
A post from Tom Sabulis on AJC’s Atlanta Forward blog addresses the need for MARTA to increase frequency of bus and train service. Read it here: MARTA transit, but not rapid (you’ll have to scroll down half way)
Here’s a quote:
Recently, the transit agency kicked off a “nuisance” program, a marketing campaign designed to make riders aware of annoying behaviors: talking loudly on cellphones, blocking doorways and begging money from other riders.
It’s a good effort, but it’s almost besides the point. My main complaint, my biggest nuisance, is the frequency — or infrequency — of service. The amount of time one spends waiting for trains and buses is my game-changer.
I think he’s right. The behavior awareness campaign is a good one and there definitely needs to be some improvement on that front for MARTA to gain wider appeal. But the bigger selling point for MARTA transit woud be frequency.
My wife and I took a trip to downtown LA a couple of weeks ago and we were impressed with the incredible (compared to MARTA) regularity of bus arrivals. You could stand at a major intersection and see one or two Metro buses arriving on each block from all four directions. And they were all at least half full, even outside commuter times.
The trains also arrived at shorter intervals than MARTA’s, which was particularly useful at night and on the weekend since we had no car.
I think we could see a big spike in transit ridership in Atlanta with increased frequency. It’s a shame that, In a way, MARTA is scuttling the potential for ridership gains with recent service cuts. I’m reminded of a quote from MARTA’s Beverly Scott in a Saporta Report piece from last year:
“We are operating at less than 30 percent of our capacity,” she said. “We have the ability to run our trains every 90 seconds (at peak times, MARTA trains run about every eight minutes). We need to have travel times that are competitive.”
MARTA photo by Instagram user Cselt1