Shelters, Shelters and More (Branded) Shelters!

By Andrew Babb, Georgia Tech Student

Every day, I walk to the corner of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Ponce de Leon Place and wait for either the 2 or 102 to whisk me into town. Some may know this location better as the light next to Chipotle. Every day I listen to Chipotle’s smooth, relaxing, commercially tex-mex soundtrack flowing down from their raised porch immediately behind the stop. And almost every day, I either stand three feet from forty mile-an-hour traffic, or I stand on the hill that leads up to Chipotle, which is made of mud more than grass. I’ve often wondered why there’s no shelter there, not even a bench. The space (though somewhat hilly) is open and unused, and the stop is arguably one of the best for providing access between MARTA and the Beltline, which can be reached across the street, through the Kroger parking lot. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Art on Track: Seeing MARTA Through a Different Lens

By Lyle Harris, Chief Spokesperson, MARTA

Lyle V. Harris, Chief Spokesperson, MARTA

By Lyle V. Harris, Chief Spokesperson, MARTA

While a picture is worth a thousand words, the stirring photographic exhibit recently staged aboard a MARTA train left some customers speechless.

The October 18 exhibit entitled “Art on Track,” transformed a pair of workaday railcars into kinetic photo galleries that surprised and delighted unsuspecting riders. It also offered another real-life example of MARTA’s vision to nurture successful relationships with metro Atlanta’s burgeoning “creative class,” to help reflect the rich culture, poignant history and soulful humanity of the community we serve. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Redefining Public Transit Benefits for Future Generations

In addition to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) honoring MARTA GM/CEO Keith T. Parker as its 2015 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager, the trade association also graduated a group of up-and-coming transit professionals from its year-long Leadership APTA class. LaShanda Dawkins, MARTA’s senior director of Human Resources, was among the graduates who submitted a research paper entitled “Redefining Public Transit Benefits for Future Generations: The CEO’s Vision for the Future.”  Below is an edited excerpt of their work that offers key insights about where the industry is headed culled from existing research and interviews with Parker and other top transit leaders. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Join the MARTA Army!

By Simon Berrebi

Like you, I believe in a world-class transit system for the Atlanta region. That’s why I am recruiting you to join the MARTA Army.

MARTA Army recruits receive their first assignment: Operation TimelyTrip signs.

MARTA Army recruits receive their first assignment: Operation TimelyTrip signs.

We are truly gifted as a region to have the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). MARTA is the ninth largest transit agency in the nation, and also one of the safest and most sustainable. Each day, hundreds of thousands of people choose to board buses and trains over adding more congestion and pollution to a saturated urban network. Our transit system is what distinguishes Metro Atlanta from neighboring regions in the competition for fresh jobs and bright minds. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gamification for Public Transit

By Alex Malokin, Georgia Tech Student

Gamification slowly but surely filters in many meaningful aspects of our lives. Transportation is not an outlier of this process. Public transit, as a part of transportation, should keep up with this trend to attract and retain riders, especially the elusive millennials. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Electric Buses Becoming a Reality

By Adam Borsch

New advances in battery and electric car technologies have made completely electric busses a reality. There are systems in the United Kingdom and Switzerland that have begun to run fully electric bus routes. These routes are revolutionary in and of themselves, however there are large untapped social and environmental benefits of running a fully electric bus line. The figure below shows some more detail on these busses. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Friday Produce Market Opens at West End MARTA Station

As part of its ongoing commitment to provide customer amenities, MARTA has opened a weekly pop-up produce market at its West End MARTA station.

The Fresh MARTA Market will provide a convenient location to purchase fresh, affordable and locally grown produce in a community with many transit-reliant individuals. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atlanta…Get Out of Your Car!

By William Woolery, Georgia Tech Student

William Woolery, Georgia Tech Student

William Woolery, Georgia Tech Student

 

Growing up in San Francisco with BART,

I already know riding MARTA is smart.

Take a pledge, starting now to be green,

The result? …a less congested Atlanta that has never been seen.

 

Give up your car and join in,

Get there faster, safer, less stress, and everyone wins.

Get the cars off the road,

Walk, take transit …be BOLD

It is the right thing to do,

Mother Earth thanks you too.

 

Stand up, Stand up, for transportation, it’s National Infrastructure Day,

Help change the business model for future growth to stay.

Acknowledge, raise awareness, to transportation’s funding plight,

Get the word out to Congress, the overdue investment is not slight.

MARTA’s commitment to small business is key,

“Join the efforts of the Strategic Alliance Memorandum!” said he.

 

Transit oriented development… TODs are here to study,

To increase service delivery and customer loyalty …tell your best buddy.

Economy and service, MARTA strives to provide,

With mix-use development, it will end that unnecessary drive.

Mix-use living awaits you, so continue your pace,

But take time to appreciate, you’ve saved valuable space.

 

Buses and trains have your route covered, so don’t be nervous,

They are working in tandem, to give you great service.

Create the perfect ride for all,

Be reliable, economic, safe, easy, without stalls.

Buses and trains will be high tech,

With mobile payment, Wi-Fi, and cellular connect.

 

Hop on success, Clayton County signed on,

Don’t delay the decision take a S.E.A.T. with the throngs.

Buckhead Station bridge has debuted, so take a walk to the train,

Customers agree, it was worth the small change.

 

Be “smarta” go MARTA, we know the routine,

Be popular again, take MARTA every day and join the MARTA team.

Don’t drive drowsy or stressed, play it safe, leave the driving dread,

Check out the new H.E. Holmes bus loop instead.

 

MARTA is “HOT”, the ridership is high,

This is the time to never say die!

“Ride with Respect”, keep your eyes wide for safety,

The effort by MARTA security has never been hasty.

Apprehending bad behaving people quick as they can,

For fare evading, initiating destructive deeds, or another evil plan.

 

The thought for the day is toilets you say?

Marta brought this necessity back to stay.

The hope is long term,

That toilets return.

Safe, sanitary, hands free, self-cleaning, and loiter-proof, it’s the “piece de resistance”,

The new washing unit/bathroom at Lindberg Center Station needs no assistance.

 

Mix smart growth with smart transit, and what does that mean?

It equals “routine excellence” and MARTA’s future is “green.”

We all can do our part…so sit back, relax, and enjoy your ride,

Support the ever evolving MARTA to be by your side.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Public Transport Survey Finds MARTA Safe, Reliable Alternative to Cars

By Jennifer Jinadu-Wright

Jennifer Jinadu-Wright, Director of Marketing, MARTA

Jennifer Jinadu-Wright, Director of Marketing, MARTA

The past few years have been transformative for MARTA. The agency is on a much stronger financial footing, rail and bus service is more frequent and more people are riding the system.

Recently, MARTA used an independent research firm to conduct a market survey to better understand our customers and identify opportunities to grow our ridership.

Our findings reaffirmed that we should continue to make the case that public transit is a safe, reliable and convenient alternative to the automobile. Research shows that MARTA has an opportunity to:

  • Increase awareness of where the system goes, both region-wide and at the local level. Many potential customers don’t know if there is a stop or station near where they live, work, or travel for personal business.
  • Use MARTA rail as an introductory point to the system; potential riders are far more likely to try rail first.
  • Increase awareness of the value of MARTA – which is a flat fare system that costs $2.50 to ride (and $1 for a Breeze card) with free transfers.
  • Increase participation among area employers in the Employer Partnership Program, targeting those with their workers who are the most likely to ride.
  • Promote MARTA’s safety and low-crime rate, particularly among non-riders.
  • Improve customer service through better employee training

The population within MARTA’s service area has been segmented into four categories – primary riders, secondary riders, potential riders and no potentials. Millenials are especially keen on riding MARTA and find it a good value compared to driving.

Of those surveyed, rail is the preferred public transit mode. Even so, MARTA is committed to making bus service a more attractive transportation option. MARTA’s Planning department is putting the final touches on the Comprehensive Operational Analysis, an in-depth reworking of our existing bus routes to make them more efficient, effective and customer friendly.

Expect to see and hear more advertisements in the next few weeks encouraging you to give MARTA a try, especially for trips to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. A recent survey ranked Hartsfield-Jackson as the tops in the nation for transit accessibility because of the direct connection to the main terminal gates that MARTA provides.

The Midtown Alliance has named June “Try Transit” month and is encouraging individuals who live or work in Midtown to put down the car keys and pick up a MARTA Breeze card or commute with one of our transit partners: Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Xpress buses, Cobb Community Transit or Gwinnett County Transit.

Use MARTA’s MyCommute trip planner or check Google Maps to find the closest MARTA bus stop or rail station near you. Ensure you’ll have a stress-free trip by downloading our “On the Go” mobile app to get real-time train and bus arrivals. Also, don’t forget to check out our new video and let us know what you think MARTA should be doing to grow its ridership.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

4 Takeaways from Development Day

Conor Sen headshot

Conor Sen is a portfolio manager with interests in demographics, media, technology and Atlanta’s urban development.

By Conor Sen

I spent most of this morning at the 3rd annual MARTA Development Day, a forum for MARTA officials to talk to real estate developers about the progress the system is making, and to facilitate the development of land around transit stations.

4 Takeaways:

1) A new boldness from MARTA CEO Keith Parker and MARTA Chairman Robert Ashe. An old boss liked to say when things were going well that he had the leverage to “play offense.” I attended the State of MARTA address a few months ago and at that meeting Parker/Ashe said that their goals were to remove all legitimate obstacles from the state or other higher government bodies investing in the expansion of MARTA and they believed they had done that. The tone at that meeting was one you might find from a team making a presentation on Shark Tank, where the presenters know that ultimately the individuals on the other side of the room were the ones in control. This morning the tone was different. They spoke with the boldness and the forcefulness of a team that knows it’s done its job and wants to act now. It was heartening to see.

2) Walkable development will be the predominant form of real estate development in this country for the next 20-30 years. Well-known urbanist Chris Leinberger’s presentation was a highlight of the event. He compared Atlanta not to DC but to Boston, saying that the Boston built environment is a direction metro Atlanta appears to be headed towards. Over the past 30 years Boston has gone from a Route 128-focused development cycle to one focused on core Boston around the T and Boston’s universities. The region is still 90-95% suburban/car-centric, but most new real estate development is happening in walkable areas. Real estate in walkable areas carries roughly a 100% premium over non-walkable areas, which is the market saying “to build more of this stuff.” Even in a boom year the built environment only grows by around 2%. Even if the walkable share of metro Atlanta only grows to around 5-10% of the total built environment like in Boston, it will take many, many years of walkable growth to catch up with demand.

3) Gross tax revenues of walkable areas are up to 12x those of non-walkable areas. I’ve mused on this on Twitter a bit in the past, saying that the economic efficiencies gained in walkable places should appeal to the fiscal desires of conservatives, but had never seen the data before. In metro Atlanta we’re seeing in areas as diverse as Cobb County with the new Braves stadium, in Alpharetta, in Johns Creek, in Duluth, in Roswell, in Sandy Springs, and in Dunwoody, hardly the bastion of progressive hipsters, that walkable places are important both because they attract Millennials and because their tax bases are too reliant on suburban residential and not enough on commercial. There’s a need to rebalance the tax base to support the needs of aging infrastructure and aging residents. Younger homeowners want walkability as an amenity and older city leaders need a more balanced tax base which can be brought about by incorporating walkability, so even though the values of the two constituencies may differ their incentives are surprisingly aligned.

4) Financing new forms of walkable developments remains challenging. Everybody wants to build grocery-anchored mixed use developments capped with a ton of luxury apartments. But just because that’s what developers want to build and investors want to finance doesn’t mean that’s capturing all or even most of what needs to be built. But non-traditional walkable developments don’t fit into existing financing models very well, and as a result financing them has up to now been somewhat difficult. This will surely work itself out over time, but for now it’s holding back the creation of more walkable places.

Conor Sen is a portfolio manager at New River Investments. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment