riding on the marta….

i’ll be the first to admit that for the whole time i have been in atlanta i have been about the biggest marta naysayer ever. in fact just last week i published a post called “it’s not smarta”.

i never even considered the idea of using marta as a means of daily commuting. now, i didn’t want to sound like a jerk, so i would often say, “if if didn’t have to ride a bus…..” but the reality is i have never had any plans to use marta for anything other than a trip to phillips arena and then only in duress.

and then last friday hit. my commute from my workplace off of old milton parkway in alpharetta back home to north ormewood took more than two hours to complete. i was frustrated, upset and stressed. i seriously could feel my blood pressure increasing with each time i tapped the breaks (you can read all about my frustration here written when it was fresh and raw).

as i watched each marta train cross over me on 400 zipping into town i asked myself, can it really be that bad?

after some quick research i discovered that i could make the trip in two train rides and one bus. east-west from inman park to five points, north-south to north springs and the 140 bus to my office. so i decided over the weekend to go for it.

monday morning i set out early and parked at the inman park marta station, getting onto the track just before the e-w train got there. i waited maybe 5 minutes at 5 points and then another 10 minutes after getting to north springs for the bus. the bus ride was definitely the longest part of the trip, but also the most relaxing as i settled in to read my book.

but coming home, ah, now that was the joy.

i picked up the bus right outside my office and rode back to north springs, where i caught the train immediately. and words cannot describe the feeling i felt zipping over 400 on the marta bridge and seeing all those cars STOPPED and realizing, for the first time that i wasn’t in it.

all told, the trip took about 30 more minutes in the morning and ended up being about even or a little less in the evening. and for the $$ i saved in gas and more importantly the stress that i never once felt on the commute i am sold.

this morning i loaded thirty days on my breeze card and i will be using marta as much as possible from now on.

so there ya go…one more car off the road….5-6 less gallons of fuel used a day.

oh and by the way, the state of georgia will even pay you to ride transit.

20 Comments so far

  1. Rashid Z. Muhammad (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 10:15 am

    You nailed the real value of MARTA right there. It’s not so much that it saves you time on the commute, it saves you stress and actually allows you to be productive or relax on the way to and from work.

  2. BTI (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    Wow!! Good job! One more person converted. It won’t always be smooth sailing, but as long as you have something to read it’s def the better way to go in my opinion. I’ve won a $25 gift card 3 times through log your commute as well. You can also get flexcar benefits and I’d be surprised if your employer doesn’t offer a free or discounted monthly pass if you give up parking. You’ve probably already used the trip planner, but it has a cool bike option added now (trip.atltransit.org). Again, good job and I hope you stick with it!

  3. Karsh (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 10:54 am

    Congrats on the MARTA switch! Like BTI said, things will be rough at times, but overall, you’ll appreciate that peace of mind in the mornings you avoid from being stuck in traffic. Those $25 gift cards help out a lot too!

  4. John (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 10:58 am

    Coming from Chicago ten years ago where I rode the CTA everyday, I researched all of the MARTA stations and bought a home in Dunwoody, a block from a main bus line & between two Marta Stations.

    Best decision I ever made since I take the train to work every day and get reimbursed from my employer.

  5. day (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 11:07 am

    So, I would LOVE to take Marta to work. Unfortunately in my Prius, it takes me 20-25 minutes to get to work (ITP to OTP). Per the transit planner, it would take me 1 hour and 42 minutes to get to work if I didn’t drive and took public transportation. That just isn’t worth it to me. If only Marta extended further north!

  6. james (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 11:19 am

    well the only way it is viable for me, day, is if i drive the 1/3 mile to inman park and park. if i had to take two buses it would be crazy.

    that being said, i have found it doesn’t take a much time as the trip planner says and while marta trains may not go north, the buses sure do.

  7. Mark (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 11:22 am

    When I lived intown (near Lindbergh) and worked at Five Points, Marta was awesome. Even though it didn’t save me much time drive wise, the parking near the office was nearly 3 times as much per month as a Monthly MARTA pass and I could and did use MARTA then for getting around outside of work commute. I doubt James pays for parking on Old Milton, though, so unless his company just likes to support transit, they probably wont’ reimburse him for not parking there. I’ve yet to see an office complex out here that you have to pay to park.

    I ended up working in Alpharetta as well and as the train really wasn’t an option, I moved out here. Not my dream, but I couldn’t sit in the traffic even counter commute at the time. Now I work at home, so maybe back ITP one day.

    But Marta would be incredible if only it went more places… When I travel to other large cities, especially Europe, I always wish we had the transit systems they do.

  8. james (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 11:34 am

    thanks for the support, guys. bti, your comments on the “it’s not smarta” post encouraged me to rethink this.

    we do have free parking here, mark, and who knows about the employer. i sent hr a note, so we’ll see.

    either way $52.50 vs what i was paying in gas is a huge amount of cash back in my pocket every month….

    oh, one more thing i am noticing, marta does go quite a few places, assuming you are willing to get on a bus….

  9. Seth (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 11:46 am

    James, your two Marta posts have been really excellent. Keep up the good blogging!

  10. George Burdell (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

    Too bad that Gwinnett and Cobb transit still require the use of a car to get around. Even coupled with MARTA, the service isn’t good for ITPers who go OTP for work.

  11. abby (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    I’m happy for you for making the switch! I have about a 6 minute commute — so I’m not going to MARTA it anytime soon, but I do take the train when I can. Skipping traffic while listening to music and reading a book is pretty grand. And the $3 a day from commuter rewards for the first few months doesn’t hurt a bit!

  12. jamie radford (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

    i love hearing stuff like this! i’m a huge proponent of the marta, and, while it has its hang-ups, it is infinitely better than trying to commute in atlanta traffic. one more convert!

  13. james (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

    hah, yeah, george. i’m lucky that even though i am a ways away from the nearest rail station, there is a marta bus that runs right past my office.

  14. BPJ (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

    One request: don’t just wish that Atlanta had a great transit system; tell your elected officials that you want a great transit system (expanded MARTA rail, commuter rail, the Beltline, etc.), and you are willing to pay for it. Be sure to tell your state senator and state representative – the state legislature is the main roadblock on these issues.

  15. Brian (unregistered) on November 20th, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

    Way to step up to the plate James! Rare is it to hear someone complain about something and actually do something about it. And for some reason, lots of people are willing to take the train, but not the bus.

    I telecommute these days, so the only time I take Marta is when I head to the airport or an occasional sporting event. The upside of all the killer traffic I’ve heard about lately is it might get people thinking more about single car alternatives.

  16. roxie (unregistered) on November 24th, 2007 @ 9:44 am

    I didn’t start driving until last year. Till then I was taking MARTA and CCT and it so much less stressful and saves you cash.

    I’m resovled to start (again) riding to bus stop and taking the train in. All the stress with driving really makes me hate it at times.

  17. JSF (unregistered) on November 26th, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

    Took marta to the airport the other day. Waited 25 minutes for a train to arrive at inman park (on saturday mind you – but that shouldn’t matter). waited another 14 minutes at 5 points. travel time on the train itself took about 30 minutes. So were looking at a total travel time of 1 hour and 10 minuts to go from one stattion to another. To make things worst, i live in SE Atlanta (ormewood actually) and I could have driven there in 15 minutes! Got to the airport 30 minutes late, missed my flight for a wedding, had to pay full price to get on the next flight on another airline (don’t get me started on Airtran right now).

    Needless to say, i won’t be taking marta again unless they refund me the price of my airline ticket. Ha!

  18. karsh (unregistered) on November 27th, 2007 @ 10:22 am

    JSF, it sounds more like you didn’t do your trip planning before hopping on the trains. Weekend train service is usually 15 minutes per train on the weekend, and 25 minutes when it’s running on holiday schedule (which it did from Thursday to Sunday). East-West line service usually takes longer also because there are fewer trains running East-West than North-South.

    A little research goes a long way.

  19. Reco (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

    James, I’ll be taking the 140 too! LOL! See you round…

  20. james (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

    sweet. i’m on the 140 right now headed south to north springs. see ya around….

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