MARTA has always had its fans and its naysayers…and it always will. In this way MARTA is like any major sports team. People get behind MARTA for many a personal reason: some people don’t have access to a car, others don’t care for their car, still others prefer the excitement of the service, and there are even those that ride a particular route at a particular time of day just to see that cute driver they met last week. However, as of yet, there are no folks who are MARTA fans because of the MARTA mascot. I propose here that in order to truly expand MARTA fandom, MARTA needs a mascot.
As a self-proclaimed bandwagon fan, I can attest to the fact that a mascot can make all the difference in who I root for. The best mascots are not the ferocious lions and tigers and bears, oh my, no. Instead, the best mascots are the banana slugs, the beavers, and the purple cows. An awesome MARTA mascot could sway a child, perhaps one predisposed to root for the Cobb County Braves, to instead root for MARTA. And, we all know MARTA needs its fans.
MARTA has the opportunity to further enthuse the Atlanta region by crowdsourcing this silliness. Getting folks involved in designing a mascot and simultaneously gets people involved in MARTA. A successful mascot does not need to make physical appearances too often, and sparing appearances may be all the more exciting. Instead the MARTA mascot might serve as a graphic campaign. Perhaps pasting graphics of the mascot doing different silly things throughout the vehicles, stations, and stops. Perhaps even along the right of way. Think “mice on main” in Greenville.
Regardless of the aesthetics, the mascots are often the center of much media attention. Awkwardly oversized creatures have recently been representing events such as the Olympics and FIFA Cup. I remember a bizarre bumbling bear balloon in Sochi and Brazil has been toting around some sort of futbol creature. But it is high time that the mascot extend beyond the world of schools and sports and into the realm of transit. Transit has long needed a mascot and MARTA, given the frustration so many users and non-users feel with the service, is the perfect institution to usher in such a being. Bring on the silliness.