February 10th, 2010


The Breaking Point: MARTA Vent

I am pretty P'O'd this morning but chugging along with work. Currently waiting on video to export... so let me vent. OK? Good, I will!

Basically I'm ticked off at the situation we have in Atlanta of having sub-par mass transit. In general I'm able to get around where and when I want to, but I think in large part that's because I've resigned myself to accepting the paradigm of our system. In other words, I've resigned myself to the system as it is and therefore make choices about travel based on that. So the system "works" for me, but could work a lot better for me and the rest of the region.

There are a couple specific flashpoints for my current upset. First and most importantly, yesterday it finally hit me (via this link) how catastrophic the proposed MARTA bus cutbacks are. MARTA is always having to cut back routes, change routes, etc., and it's never good (vicious cylce: less buses, less frequently, less riders... more cuts) but this time it's INSANE. Almost every bus route I use is on the block for either elimination or radical route changes that would make them less convenient or useless.

For me personally, this means that in several cases, the elimination of routes will mean there's no way I'll be able to get to certain places directly -- yes, those places will cease to exist for me. The alternative routes are going to be terrible --- take a train and a couple buses or bike, then take a bus, etc. It will be a lot worse for people who don't live near train stations like I do, because it could leave them cut off from jobs, healthcare, school, etc. How do you explain to your work that you can't get to work anymore? Especially if there's no way you can afford a vehicle or moving. The 16 bus is one of the busiest in the system, packed with Atlanta Med Cntr workers, and it's on the chopping block. The hell?

I call it the MARTAcalypse. And I could go into the whole background of why MARTA is having such a hard time, but it boils down to the State of Georgia being anti-urban and anti-transit and hating Atlanta, even though it's the engine that keeps the state going, provides the bulk of state revenue, is where tourists and conventioneers go, etc.

Hearings and forums are scheduled, riders are urged to plead with lawmakers, gov't at all levels, etc., so these cuts might not happen... but then again they might and if so, things are going to suck big time. The uproar will be huge, which may or may not spur some action to help MARTA out. Or they might just go with some Darwinist attitude...

Now the second flashpoint has to do with the crappy service I'm getting from MARTA right now. Yes, as I said, I rely on MARTA, it usually works, but grrr, an episode this morning shows how defective the system is. I mean, seriously, I visit a place like Chicago, Germany, London, and I can expect buses to show up when and where they're meant to. And if they don't, it comes with an apology and the next bus will be arriving shortly. No waiting AN HOUR like I did this morning.

So, what happened? I missed the bus from my station by 30 sec., which already sucks. But OK, next one's in 30 min. Rather than waiting at the station, I walked along the bus route about 3/4 mile to Little Five Points. That kept me warm in the 20 F weather. Time for bus to come. Next one should pass south and then come back at 10:20. But noooooo. Bus never showed and me and 2 other riders at that stop were rescued from cold only at 10:50. We had all turned pink and blue. Where was the other bus? Trans-dimensional void? This happened last week too... I got on a really crowded bus, same route, where everyone was talking about how the prior bus hadn't turned up. It was SRO on the bus.
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