web analytics

Trip report: Atlanta

MARTA Midtown (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

MARTA Midtown (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

Last week, my family took a week’s vacation to the south and I was lucky enough to convince my wife to ride Atlanta’s MARTA subway system. It was after all, my birthday so I did not have to work very hard at it. We were passing through on a Sunday morning and after checking the schedules, I was delighted to see that even on Sunday, the Gold Line operates on 20 minute headways. This is comparable to Indy’s best bus headways or was up until recently with the 2013 service upgrades to the 8.

MARTA Linbergh Station (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

MARTA Lindbergh Station (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

With the promise of coffee at one of the stations, I set about finding someplace we could park our vehicular mode of transportation and catch the train. We chose the Lindbergh Station located on the north side of Atlanta. For you locals, the best description I can find to describe the station area would be taking the less hokey parts of Carmel’s city center mashed in with an even more urban grid all underpinned by the subway service where two unique routes serve the station.

MARTA Linbergh Station (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

MARTA Lindbergh Station (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

You transit nerds may not be surprised to hear that there were a number of apartments, offices and yes, even a local coffee shop at this stop which came as a delight to us. We purchased our fares on what MARTA calls a “breeze card” which is sort of funny because purchasing the card and loading it with money to pay fares was a breeze. The card looks and feels like a credit card, and fits nicely back into your wallet or purse afterwards and can be recharged as needed. Using the card is easy and reminded me of the Harry Potter flick where Ron’s dad goes into London and gasps in wonder as the muggles simply swipe their card over the machine and the door opens; MARTA’s rail stations operate the same. As my muggle family and I descended the open air steps to the platform of the Lindbergh station, I could only marvel at the downtown skyline in the distance, a multi-story office building to the left and a mixed use 4 story building to the right. Sure, there is structured parking to go with this wonderfulness, but the landscape here is mostly dominated by transit oriented development forms with bus stops, sidewalks, the rail way itself the sum of which Indianapolis has no real comparable counterpart.

MARTA Linbergh Station (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

MARTA Lindbergh Station (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

Once on the train itself, a smooth ride into Midtown ensued. We departed the train and climbed the steps up to ground level exiting into Midtown Atlanta, surrounded by myriad high rise buildings. We walked a few blocks and got a coffee at Starbucks (not too proud to admit this) and walked back to the same station. We took the train back out to the same station, grabbed a few pastries from the local coffee shop at Lindbergh Station and walked back to our car to continue our vacation.

Easy boarding Portland Streetcar (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

Easy boarding Portland Streetcar (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

I have been traveling to peer cities, bigger and smaller, since 2010 in my efforts to learn about what constitutes a great rapid transit system. Atlanta sets the bar high in my opinion based on it’s best in class ticketing system (Denver, eat your cash-only heart out….), its smooth ride and the presence of real time arrival time boards. I would say that the only criticism that we had, and my wife was quick to point this out, was that at it’s core, MARTA’s railway is a subway. Downtown, it is totally underground. When you get outside of downtown, it is surface running. In the case of the Lindbergh Station that we used, we had to walk down a flight of open air steps to an open air platform and wait. My wife commented on how nice it was when we visited Portland a few years ago and we were able to simply roll the stroller right onto the MAX light rail and Portland Streetcar.

In conclusion, we had a very safe trip on the train; I find it necessary to point out “safe”. Last week, I was informed that a caller on 93.1’s Garrison morning show proclaimed the crime on MARTA’s system as “epic”. While my experience is strictly anecdotal, I found the experience very safe and felt no risk taking my wife and 3 year old son aboard the train. As with all transit systems, mingling with strangers can present opportunities for tense encounters so policing yourself and judging each situation carefully is up to you. Also, one could say the same thing about visiting the mall.

I would classify Atlanta’s railway service top shelf among the rapid transit rail lines I have had the pleasure of visiting.

Social Media

3 Responses to “ “Trip report: Atlanta”

  1. TJ says:

    Interesting to hear about Lindbergh Station now. I remember visiting the Lindbergh Station area at least 15 years ago – and thinking how there wasn’t much around the site. I remember a large parking garage – and maybe a few commercial areas nearby with a big box store or two but not much else real close to the station. It sounds like it has changed a lot. I do not remember any large residential buildings or large office buildings near the station area. I guess that is what Transit Oriented Development is all about.

  2. Brandon says:

    Glad to se research of transit in the ATL. I have used this system a number of times traveling to Five Point and Midtown station mostly. The subway is well constructed and very efficient in my opinion. A good model to look at.

  3. Gus Cwiek says:

    The modern credit card was the successor of a variety of merchant credit schemes. It was first used in the 1940s, in the United States, specifically to sell fuel to a growing number of automobile owners. In 1938 several companies started to accept each other’s cards. Western Union had begun issuing charge cards to its frequent customers in 1921. Some charge cards were printed on paper card stock, but were easily counterfeited.^^

    Remember to look into this useful blog
    <http://www.healthmedicinelab.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *