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Old 05-24-2010, 10:11 AM
 
8,468 posts, read 13,229,216 times
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First off, I apologize if this question has been asked before. I searched through the forum and found LOTS of posts on MARTA, but most seemed to focus on the lack of funding, the limited track lines, the politics, etc. But I didn't really find anything that addressed why the people who have access to it don't seem to use it. I was talking to one poster who had lived in Atlanta and he said people there just look down on it as if taking the train were somehow beneath them. As a 30something single without kids who's considering moving to Atlanta, I'm pretty sure I'll be living either inside the perimeter or close to it. And as much as I love my car, I don't relish the idea of sitting inside it for 2 hours a day, especially if my foot will be on the brake during most of that time. So here are my questions:

1) Is MARTA safe? In Washington DC, the train system is kind of like MARTA in that it doesn't extend very far into the suburbs. But people there take the bus to the nearest train station. From what I hear, it's pretty crowded. If you don't get on at the first stop, you're standing the whole way. So clearly the people in the DC suburbs don't look down on public transit and will suffer through it rather than be stuck on the freeway. The fact that you don't see the same thing in Atlanta makes me worry that it's not safe to ride the trains there. How true is that?

2) Is MARTA reliable? I've never had a job where I needed to take the train to get to work. Besides safety, another concern I have is reliability. Does MARTA have a history of not running on time? Are there a lot mechanical problems?

3) How comfortable are the MARTA trains? I know you can't expect public transit to be luxurious. But in most cities, it's reasonably clean. How are the MARTA trains? Can you ride the train wearing a suit and tie and not worry? Are they air-conditioned during the summer and heated during the winter? Or will you be miserable riding in there?

4) Is there a problem with the people who ride on MARTA? When I first saw the MARTA map and saw how it doesn't extend very far into the suburbs, I couldn't help but wonder if that was to keep "undesirables" from coming to the suburbs. If so, do people in the burbs really think blacks are going to get on the train just to come out to the burbs and rob or kill them? I've also heard there's a big Atlanta/Georgia rivalry where the rest of the state wants to keep Atlanta contained. All of this makes me wonder about what type of people ride the train. In other cities, you'll see all kinds of people. Blue-collar, white-collar, young, old, etc. Is MARTA dominated by a particular demographic or type of rider to the point where no one else feels welcome?

5) How does MARTA's future look? If they don't have a lot of people using it, does that mean they may scale back on how often it runs or possibly raise ticket prices? I know there's continual talk about it expanding, but it sounds like that won't be happening anytime soon, if at all. That's fine by me since, like I said, I won't be living far from the perimeter.

Any other info about MARTA would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:20 AM
 
8,862 posts, read 14,388,045 times
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Speaking only for myself--

I live about 5 miles from a MARTA Park and Ride. Sometimes difficult to find a place to park and security issues are something of a concern.

If I don't Park and Ride I could take the bus to a station. The weather sometimes discourages me from doing this.

I can't imagine transporting groceries via bus or train. People say that they do this.

'Some' of the MARTA bus drivers are 'sensitive' people--cough.

Complexity of transferring to different lines --N/S, E/W, etc.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:28 AM
 
Location: East Side of ATL
4,143 posts, read 5,737,020 times
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1. I haven't had any troubles on it. Its just like anywhere else in public. Keep an eye out for trouble and watch your belongs.

2. The train is most of the time. Unless their is an incident. The bus can be hit or miss depending on the driver and traffic.

3. It has a/c on the train. I assume, heat too. I can't remember nor did I notice since I'm usually bundled up. The ac can be weak at times on certain cars though.

4. You are correct. That was partly the issue in the past. Now, its too expensive to build heavy rail into the suburbs.

5. With the new transit bill that passed and numerous plans ahead with the Beltline and Peachtree Trolley, its seems bright.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:35 AM
 
213 posts, read 362,778 times
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Think almost 250,000 people ride marta train a day. Its the 7th most used system in America... So it is well used... the system is really safe. Marta is the only system where you can watch TV on the buses and the trains. its mostly the news though... Its very comfortable, The trains get pack in the mornings and evenings around 5...
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:41 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
7,798 posts, read 11,731,309 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulchild23 View Post
Think almost 250,000 people ride marta train a day. Its the 7th most used system in America... So it is well used... the system is really safe. Marta is the only system where you can watch TV on the buses and the trains. its mostly the news though... Its very comfortable, The trains get pack in the mornings and evenings around 5...
This...plus another 230,000 use the buses.

Half a million riders a day isn't what I would call bad. If you want to see poor usage, take a look at Baltimore, Cleveland or Miami.

Last edited by waronxmas; 05-24-2010 at 10:52 AM..
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:44 AM
 
1,114 posts, read 1,939,891 times
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You have to remember Atlanta has fairly huge suburbs so saying it doesn't extend far enough is a bit of a misnomer. From North Springs to the airport is ~22 miles which is a fairly long distance given how many stops you have in the middle. Googling a bit, the longest line in the NYC subway is the A line at 31 miles. I realize that NYC has a dozens more lines but they have density that ATL could only dream of. Stretching Marta another 10 miles up would result in a 1.5hr ride end to end and probably not reasonable for most people and not great at adding more riders given the cost. Greater density and feeder routes to the giant + symbol that is Marta would probably help but Cobb/Gwinnett counties are enjoying their own fiscal nightmares w/o the added burden of heavy rail.

If you live along Marta, it's a great feature. I live about 3 blocks from a station and always use it to go to the airport or downtown where parking is difficult and expensive. I've ridden it after midnight and still felt fairly safe despite what some people have claimed but I was on the N/S line and well north of Five Points. That said, I don't ride it daily b/c my office is up I-75 away from any lines and most things I need are a short walk (school, grocery, park, etc). My mom rides it daily from Indian Creek -> Peachtree Center for her work and loves its convenience despite living out in Snellville so she has a 20 min drive to the station.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:46 AM
 
8,468 posts, read 13,229,216 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKCorey View Post
4. You are correct. That was partly the issue in the past. Now, its too expensive to build heavy rail into the suburbs.
What am I correct about? That the people in the suburbs are just afraid of black people coming out there? I think that's a reason why a lot of cities don't have any train system. Is there only a certain type of person on the train or do you see a pretty good variety?
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:47 AM
 
Location: East Side of ATL
4,143 posts, read 5,737,020 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
If you want to see poor usage, take a look at Baltimore, .
Aye, its not our fault, we have 1 crappy subway line and 1 crappy light rail line too!

We are the stepchild of the metro area.

The busses are well used in Baltimore....

Quote:
What am I correct about? That the people in the suburbs are just afraid of black people coming out there? I think that's a reason why a lot of cities don't have any train system. Is there only a certain type of person on the train or do you see a pretty good variety
yes, the fear of the undesirables coming to the suburbs.

I've only used the E n W line and its a mixed to a point. After Five points to the west, its few whites on the train. Other than that, its a nice split.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:01 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
7,798 posts, read 11,731,309 times
Reputation: 5394
Quote:
Originally Posted by PKCorey View Post
Aye, its not our fault, we have 1 crappy subway line and 1 crappy light rail line too!

We are the stepchild of the metro area.

The busses are well used in Baltimore....


Haha!

I won't down Baltimore too much. They do have great plans to improve what they have, and it is exactly because of what you posted why they have a much lower ridership than MARTA.

For the larger question of the OP, there are two ways of looking at MARTA.

1. For the area that MARTA serves, it serves it very well. MARTA is one of the finest systems in country. It's clean, usually on time, and connnects directly to the Airport, shopping, and convention centers. For those who live and work near a train station, it works well too as a mechanism to commute and go about your daily errands.

2. If you live in a county that didn't vote to fund MARTA then it sucks and for good reason. If you don't pay for it, then why expect service?

MARTA as it is actually quite a success despite the challenges it faces. If it hadn't been blocked by Clayton, Gwinnett and Cobb, then it is likely the metro area would have developed differently and the usage would be near the 1 million range. Basically, it would have been a replica of the DC metro.

For what could have been, take a look at this post from a few months back.

Original Atlanta Mass Transit Plans
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:04 AM
 
Location: East Side of ATL
4,143 posts, read 5,737,020 times
Reputation: 1758
The new plans for Baltimore semi make sense.

Its funny how both systems have the same issues from the community (NIMBY).
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