Jump to content

monsoon

Atlanta's Regional Rail and Transit Systems.

Recommended Posts

You can disagree all you want, the fact is that once you get outside of the urban core, even in NY, the percentage of commuters that use mass transit is in or just above single digits. As for the rest of the world, show me one country, just one, whose built environment is as dispersed and auto oriented as ours. Canada would probably be the closest and even they really aren't in the same league.

I can guess the cities that you would tick off as the examples of "extreme" sucess stories of commuter rail. NY, DC, San Fran, Chicago. You can't compare them to Atlanta. They are a different type of city. All of those cities I just mentioned have ring cities with clearly defined cores of their own. Atlanta does not. No matter how much you wish it to be so, transit will not work make any discernable difference in traffic in a city like Atlanta, at least not into the forseeable future.

And yes, I favor rebuilding the streetcars system in Atlanta over helping to solve the commute problems of someone who moved to BFE and then wonders why it takes him/her so long to get to work. Why should we as a society make multi billion $ investments so you can live in the middle of nowhere??? As far as practical goes, the only place transit has a hope of capturing more then just a token ridership is in the urban core. And the only real traffic issue facing this region is the assumption that people can choose to live wherever they want and then expect society to pony up the money to make their life convenient.

Edited by ryanmckibben

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


You can disagree all you want, the fact is that once you get outside of the urban core, even in NY, the percentage of commuters that use mass transit is in or just above single digits. As for the rest of the world, show me one country, just one, whose built environment is as dispersed and auto oriented as ours. Canada would probably be the closest and even they really aren't in the same league.

First, I'll preface this entire response by saying that I don't mean to anger you (you sound upset in this post). I am merely making comparisons and offering my thoughts.

Now, onto this first point - I'm not sure what you mean by "urban core." I don't envision commuter rails going out to Columbus to reach Atlanta necessarily. I'm talking about where the majority of people are coming from to get into the city. Gwinnett, Cobb, and northern Fulton counties are the prime regions where these type of transit options would work. And regarding your other point about car-oriented system, I think you're making my point for me. This country has relied on that mentality for too long, and before oil and gas prices exponentially grow (which really isn't too far in the future, as many economists predict we have already reached our peak oil productions and that oil could hit $100/barrel as early as in a year), we need to develop better and newer strategies for mobility. There is no reason to shrug off or ignore these issues by simply saying that Atlanta is not like NYC or Chicago. The traffic situation here is horrendous and has a detrimental effect on all, whether it be through air quality, stress, economic strains, etc.

I can guess the cities that you would tick off as the examples of "extreme" sucess stories of commuter rail. NY, DC, San Fran, Chicago. You can't compare them to Atlanta. They are a different type of city. All of those cities I just mentioned have ring cities with clearly defined cores of their own. Atlanta does not. No matter how much you wish it to be so, transit will not work make any discernable difference in traffic in a city like Atlanta, at least not into the forseeable future.
Again, I will disagree with you here for the reasons I stated earlier and just above. The excuse that Atlanta is not like other cities can only be used so far. And I don't understand what a "core" city has to do with anything. You wouldn't consider cities/areas like Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw, Norcross, Peachtree City, Fayetteville, etc. as regions where a large amount of people live and commute to Atlanta for work?

And yes, I favor rebuilding the streetcars system in Atlanta over helping to solve the commute problems of someone who moved to BFE and then wonders why it takes him/her so long to get to work. Why should we as a society make multi billion $ investments so you can live in the middle of nowhere??? As far as practical goes, the only place transit has a hope of capturing more then just a token ridership is in the urban core. And the only real traffic issue facing this region is the assumption that people can choose to live wherever they want and then expect society to pony up the money to make their life convenient.
I don't understand why you would prefer to spend money on a more asthetic element of this city that has little if any real gain for the people in the metro Atlanta area as a whole over working for a better integrated city. That to me is just wasteful.

Look, streetcars would be attractive, but that's about all they would do. They would still traverse down busy roads, causing congestion and not relieving traffic while moving a limited amount of people. If the proposal for this were to come for referundum over, say, expanding commuter rail options to nearby suburbs, I would quickly vote "no."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Commuter rail is a further subsidy of the suburbs.....spending a tremendous amount of money to make it easier to live 50 miles from a job shouldn't be a burden bourn by the tax payer....God knows they spend enough on highways already.
That's one of the main points, though. Some of these transit options cost far less than highway expansion/construction projects (i.e., the "Northern Arc" proposal) and act more than a "band-aid" to the problem. For example, the expansion of GA 400 recently to 4 lanes will work for a couple of years, but by then populations in Roswell, Cumming, John's Creek, Milton, and Alpharetta will grow and push the "benefit" of that extra lane to the brink of uselessness. What then? Add another lane and spend MORE money?

I don't know the answer in terms of how much one city versus another would pay for the rail versus the amount contributed from the state, but something tells me that if more people sit down and see examine the facts, they would likely reach a conclusion that on a cost-effectiveness basis, other projects versus highway expansions would be much more profitable. Case in point - there is a reason why areas like Brookhaven and Chamblee are starting to explode right now in terms of development for residential and retail - they are located near MARTA stations, which, according to sources I have in the real estate market, has been a hot thing requested from newbies (and potential developers) in town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm talking about where the majority of people are coming from to get into the city.

In Atlanta there are far more people trying to get through (or past) the city than into it. The vast majority of workers here commute from suburb to suburb rather than into the traditional center city. The extremely diffuse and low-density nature of residential and employment patterns is one of the factors that makes public transit very problematical for Atlanta.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I promise you maverick I am not mad. You and I actually agree on quite a bit. If you were to go back and read some of my other posts you would know that I am probably much more pessimistic on the future of our oil supplies then you are. For years I advocated the building of mass transit into the burbs. What i have come to realize is that transit does not and will not work in the suburbs, at least American suburbs. They are simply too diffuse to make any real difference in either traffic congestion or energy use. Automobile suburbs are a historical anomoly, and I fully believe that our childrens children will look back at the way most of us currently live as a time of unbelievable waste. Daily life as you know it (and I am assuming that you live in said burbs based on some of your posts) is not possible without cheap oil. As you have said yourself the time of cheap oil is rapidly appraoching, some would say it is already here and that we are merely playing symantics with the budget by calling the war in Iraq defense spending instead of what it is, oil protection money. Unfortunately, I see no real alternative to oil on the horizon, not even close. But...back to the topic at hand...

You are erroneously assuming that most or even the majority of people commuting out of Cobb and Gwinett are coming into the city. If all of the commuters on 75 and 85 worked in MT or DT then you would have already hit on the perfect solution...kind of. Even with that scenario, how do people get from their house to the station or from the station to their office? Unfortunately, most commutes are from suburb to suburb where the above problem gets even worse. The only place that transit has a chance of gaining real traction is in the urban areas of our city. If you would like to know more about why, I would suggest reading "How Cities Work" by Alex Marshall.

I want to stress to you that I am not opposed to transit, in fact you will have a hard time finding someone that believes that the car is as big of a problem as I believe it to be. I am however opposed to spending billions of $ on transportation systems that will not achieve the desired results. You say that streetcars are merely ornamental, I would argue that only in the urban areas of our region (Buckhead, MD, DT, Decatur, Marietta) does transit have even a prayer of achieving what you want it to.

Ultimately, suburbia is dysfunctional and I see no reason to invest billions more to perpetuate a style of living that is ridiculously wastefull and already unbelievably subsidized.

Here's to city living!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, Ryan.

I'd be in favor of expanding and enhancing MARTA within Fulton and DeKalb counties. They're the areas that had the foresight to vote for the system when it was feasible to build mass transit. They endured its construction and have carried the burden of paying for it for many decades. They've also fostered growth around transit stations and they have the density of residential, commercial and public facilities to support it. Perhaps most importantly, these intown areas have a history and culture of using public mass transit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Ryan for your clarification. I guess I am just super optimistic (eh, what do you expect from a 26-year-old new to Atlanta)! ;D I grew up in New England (Providence) and witnessed many people commuting to and from Boston on the T (both the commuter rail and the "subway"). I have seen how many people live within Boston and the immediate suburbs and use their car very infrequently. Yes, that type of solution took MANY years, and I get that.

I am all about expanding MARTA too within the Fulton and Dekalb County lines. I don't get why a "Northwest/South" line was not constructed. They could have designed a route that didn't destroy residential neighborhoods. Heck, they have a lot of potential with the Bankhead extension to push that out further. Plus, BRT, I believe, is the wave of the future here in Atlanta. The Northwest I-75 study, I think, has nailed it with stations in Cumberland and also other places in Cobb County. This, I believe, will benefit lifestyle more than mere HOV lanes which are hardly used anyways (a dismal percentage of people use those lanes for travel - they should include hybrid vehicles on the list of acceptable vehicles for HOV lanes).

But, alas, I continue to rant. I apologize for that! Thanks for everyone reading! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Ryan for your clarification. I guess I am just super optimistic (eh, what do you expect from a 26-year-old new to Atlanta)! ;D I grew up in New England (Providence) and witnessed many people commuting to and from Boston on the T (both the commuter rail and the "subway"). I have seen how many people live within Boston and the immediate suburbs and use their car very infrequently. Yes, that type of solution took MANY years, and I get that.

I am all about expanding MARTA too within the Fulton and DeKalb County lines. I don't get why a "Northwest/South" line was not constructed. They could have designed a route that didn't destroy residential neighborhoods. Heck, they have a lot of potential with the Bankhead extension to push that out further. Plus, BRT, I believe, is the wave of the future here in Atlanta. The Northwest I-75 study, I think, has nailed it with stations in Cumberland and also other places in Cobb County. This, I believe, will benefit lifestyle more than mere HOV lanes which are hardly used anyways (a dismal percentage of people use those lanes for travel - they should include hybrid vehicles on the list of acceptable vehicles for HOV lanes).

But, alas, I continue to rant. I apologize for that! Thanks for everyone reading! :)

It'd still be nice to see MARTA expanded to areas like Cobb where commuters like myself would appreciate it, but BRT will undoubtedly become the next expansion of mass transit for commuters in Metro Atlanta. Riding the bus into the city is really not as bad as most would believe and hopefully CCT (Cobb Community Transit) and GRTA will work together to expand the hours of travel times to benefit ALL commuters.

Anyhoo, just felt the urge to give my two cents on this matter. I just hope I'm not met with disgust by you urban dwellers. I promise I don't live like the rest of suburbia! :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MARTA BRT in works for DeKalb - AJC

MARTA is building a next-generation transportation system on Memorial Drive in east DeKalb County that promises fast, reliable service when it launches in late 2008 or early 2009.

The service, linking the Stone Mountain area and MARTA's Kensington rail station, will feature a limited number of stops and sleek new buses with rail-car-like touches, such as wider aisles and lower floors to enable riders to board without walking up steps. Riders will pay fares at stops instead of on the bus, greatly speeding the boarding process.

Perhaps the most innovative feature of the new system is the "queue jumping" lane concept. The lanes will be built on Memorial at two key intersections, Rockbridge Road and Rays Road.

image_5702005.jpg

image_5701973.jpg

Edited by Martinman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did they do away with the commuter rail project, or have somebody heard anything else about it??

Theres been some encouraging signs on the possibility of commuter rail recently.

One, the DOT took a vote last month in support of commuter rail and recommended that the Atlanta-Lovejoy line be extended to Griffin (and eventually Macon), and it also supported an Atlanta-Tucker line to be extended to Athens.

Secondly, the Transit Planning Board created by the ARC two years ago, have created a general map of where and what type of transit is needed in the region. We actually have suburban counties calling for transit.

The missing link however, remains those in control of the state government right now, who have yet to express even the slightest interest in spending money on anything other than asphalt.

Maria Saporta discusses this in her recent column. Maria Soporta

Edited by Martinman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting that link to Maria's column, Martinman. I hope everyone takes a look. I thank God for Maria every time I read her. IMO, she is one of the sole reasons the AJC has any relevance. Whatever happened to Colin Campbell?

These are indeed exciting times for transit here, but it's just so sad we have 3 more years of Sonny-Bubba to endure.

Edited by johnatl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In discussing all the new buildings going up in the Atlanta area, I think we have missed a few very important steps taken within the last few weeks regarding transportation solutions in metro Atlanta. While the buildings will help make Atlanta's skyline pretty, it will be a thorough transportation system that will keep it moving. Last week and this week, commissioners, planners and movers and shakers have been meeting to discuss the traffic situation in Atlanta. Well this week, the ARC adopted a $67 billion dollar regional transportation plan.

While the plan does include roads, it does address alternative transportation needs.

Highlights of the plan include the region's first set of managed lanes, where commuters will have the option of traveling in free-flow conditions around the clock for a fee, as well as new transit options such as expanded bus service, bus rapid transit systems, the Beltline and a transit spur from the Lindbergh MARTA station to Emory University.

I am also pleased to see that some of the suburban county heads are becoming more aware of the necessity of a regional transportation system that includes public transportation options.

"Despite record-breaking growth, federal cutbacks and having to cut more than $4 billion worth of much-needed projects, we've devised and endorsed a plan that will minimize future traffic delays and keep Atlanta moving," said ARC Chairman Sam Olens. "We've expanded transit options and will fund hundreds of projects across the region that will target congestion. It's past time to get this region moving, and we're going to pull out all the stops possible to make that happen."

You can read the full article in the ABC here:

Atlanta Regional Transportation

Then today in the AJC I was reading an article that had interesting quotes from Sam Olens, County Commission Chairman of Cobb County and Fayette County Commission Chairman Jack Smith. Both officials stressed that more rail is crucial for the area's future. Times are definitely changing. I knew I would see the day it would come to this but I thought I would be much older.

From Cobb County Chairman Olens:

Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens said the most important projects are creating two rails lines: One along the I-285 corridor between the Perimeter Mall area and the Cumberland area near I-75, and the other roughly along the I-75 corridor from around Kennesaw State University to intown Atlanta.

He favors a light rail system, which could be quicker to put in place but would carry fewer people than a heavy rail system such as MARTA.

"I need the additional transit now, not 20 years from now," Olens said.

From Fayette County Chairman Smith:

...Smith said he sees a need to extend existing MARTA lines in several directions into the suburbs. For the southside, he particularly leans toward building MARTA rail along I-85 to south Fulton's Union City, "if not Newnan."

Suburban acceptance of transit is growing, he said. "There is a willingness to understand that congestion has gotten bad enough that we have to embrace some alternative means."

Thoughts like these, from people in power, could ultimately help the Atlanta region realize more cooperation concerning public transportation on a metrowide basis. In my opionion, this will help keep Atlanta competitive on a regional and national level. It will also add to the quality of life for more metro Atlanta citizens. Now some commission chairmen are less rosy than others but I do see a softening in the stance even of Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charles Bannister.

From Gwinnett County Chairman Bannister:

During a break in the meeting Thursday, Charles Bannister, the chairman of the Gwinnett County Commission, declined to even address the issue of whether MARTA should be in Gwinnett now.

But he does see the need for a different kind of rail. Bannister said the least expensive and quickest to implement would be a commuter rail system that would run on or alongside existing freight rails. Two main lines cross Gwinnett: one near Buford Highway and another that veers northeast through the county.

"There is more interest on some form of rail system" in Gwinnett than there has been in decades past when county voters shot down an extension of MARTA, Bannister said.

At least he is now considering commuter rail. I'm actually shocked of his continued resistance to MARTA however. I don't kow if he has driven around Gwinnett lately but it strikes me as a diverse community. Perhaps putting it up for vote again could better serve his citizens rather than having his own opinions of the matter.

Of course with almost every situation, it will come down to one thing. Money

If you care to, you can read the entire article here:

More rail crucial for metro Atlanta, say officials

One last thing before I head out to my closing. I really wish the regional leaders and planners continue to all come together for the betterment of metro Atlanta. I dont care if the system is called MARTA, GRTA, FARTA or CARTER....just let's get a regional sytem that can have representation from all core the core counties with a common goal to make the region better. I can read it in the words of Olens and Smith...going are the days of me, me, me and my county, my county, my county. I can see regionalism starting and it makes me proud. Let's all hope that this tide of regionalism continues to grow and be nurtured and cultivated.

That's my commentary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One last thing before I head out to my closing. I really wish the regional leaders and planners continue to all come together for the betterment of metro Atlanta. I dont care if the system is called MARTA, GRTA, FARTA or CARTER....

Celeste, excellent post! By the way, did you hear the unfortunate acronym for Seattle's new transit system?

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/332081_slut18.html - the South Lake Union Trolley.

:lol:

I am personally a huge fan of rail and have high hopes that we'll get it. My concern is whether our city is so spread out that people won't ride it. It's that "last mile" that makes all the difference. Consider the experience they've had in Los Angeles:

Near the Rails but still on the Road:

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-transit3...-tot-topstories

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow Andrea. That is absolutely dreadful. At least we don't have that here. Can you imagine catching a shuttle on the peppermint to go to the SOB before doing dinner at the MOP? Maybe we should call our new combined system GARTA...which of course would connect to the Belt...Beltline that is, lol.

As far as my thoughts on public transportation, I think that Sam Olens is one the right track. Excuse the pun. The suburban parts of Atlanta may never be able to have a deep concentration of true public transportation but alternatives are needed. Like his lightrail plan to go from Cumberland over to the Perimeter Center area. There would be only a need for maybe a few initial stops. Imagine buses in Cobb delivering passengers to a light rail station to have them ferried over to the Perimeter Center area. This leg could cut an hour off the trip of those of our citizens who may live off say Delk Rd but work at the Ravinia. No longer with said rider have to go to downtown to be ferried back north to the Perimeter Center area.

Then to throw in commuter rail coming out of Gwinnett. One could live in Jackson County and ride a train all the to the city if need calls for such a trip. Perhaps we are moving closer to that day........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow Andrea. That is absolutely dreadful. At least we don't have that here. Can you imagine catching a shuttle on the peppermint to go to the SOB before doing dinner at the MOP? Maybe we should call our new combined system GARTA...which of course would connect to the Belt...Beltline that is, lol.

As far as my thoughts on public transportation, I think that Sam Olens is one the right track. Excuse the pun. The suburban parts of Atlanta may never be able to have a deep concentration of true public transportation but alternatives are needed. Like his lightrail plan to go from Cumberland over to the Perimeter Center area. There would be only a need for maybe a few initial stops. Imagine buses in Cobb delivering passengers to a light rail station to have them ferried over to the Perimeter Center area. This leg could cut an hour off the trip of those of our citizens who may live off say Delk Rd but work at the Ravinia. No longer with said rider have to go to downtown to be ferried back north to the Perimeter Center area.

Then to throw in commuter rail coming out of Gwinnett. One could live in Jackson County and ride a train all the to the city if need calls for such a trip. Perhaps we are moving closer to that day........

Celeste, I agree with you and hope we are both right. However, this town is REALLY committed to its cars. I think there are several reasons why. For one thing, our city is so spread out that it's hard for public transit to cover that "last mile" -- the difference between your stop and your actual destination. It's one thing to walk several blocks in Manhattan, but quite another to trudge around Atlanta. Also, I think public transit still has a bad image among many Atlantans. Some think it's unsafe, and some people have reservations based on class and race issues. It's also incredibly cheap to drive and park around Atlanta. I think some people also have questions about the reliabilityof public transport. That's not to say that those fears are justified, but they are perceptions, and I think they keep a lot of people in their cars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Celeste, I agree with you and hope we are both right. However, this town is REALLY committed to its cars. I think there are several reasons why. For one thing, our city is so spread out that it's hard for public transit to cover that "last mile" -- the difference between your stop and your actual destination. It's one thing to walk several blocks in Manhattan, but quite another to trudge around Atlanta. Also, I think public transit still has a bad image among many Atlantans. Some think it's unsafe, and some people have reservations based on class and race issues. It's also incredibly cheap to drive and park around Atlanta. I think some people also have questions about the reliabilityof public transport. That's not to say that those fears are justified, but they are perceptions, and I think they keep a lot of people in their cars.

The cure for this is DENSITY... in the right places, and a transit system that goes where people need/ want to go...

fortunately the first is happening--- the second is partly there and will follow-- the question is how long will it take and will the

state finally step up and support transit?...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The cure for this is DENSITY... in the right places, and a transit system that goes where people need/ want to go...

fortunately the first is happening--- the second is partly there and will follow-- the question is how long will it take and will the

state finally step up and support transit?...

No doubt about that, verge. I just wonder whether Atlanta will ever get to a density, in terms of both employment and housing, sufficient to support public transit. The vast majority of workers here commute from suburb to suburb (hence the mobs of passthrough traffic on the downtown connector), and suburbia continues to be where 90% of the growth occurs. Things could change, and I personally hope they will, but I'm not optimistic about seeing it in my lifetime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure if anyone here's seen this map, but it just doesn't seem to unreasonable that something like this could be developed over a long period of time in our city. I know it would take A LOT of planning, but if a 5, 10, 20 year plan was developed, why couldn't it be done? This is complements of "Citizens for Progressive Transit":

http://www.cfpt.org/pages/wctv

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone know anything about the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation? Are they always auto-friendly?

There is an article today in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that talks about the region's $30 billion plan for transportation, which includes Marta rail expansion as well as a lot of commuter rail. The article was talking about how all of this rail expansion would serve a population in which "transit ridership is projected to increase less than 1 percent under an expanded system - from 3,8% of all trips to 4.7% in 2030."

To which the Reason Foundation immediately replied that their $25 billion plan to expand Atlanta's interstates with toll lanes that buses could use would do far more to relieve congestion.

Pfft. First of all, there are places (downtown connector for one) that the interstates really could not be expanded any more. Second of all, do we REALLY want to continue auto-based transit thought. How are they SO SURE that people will not embrace commuter rail if it is done right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone know anything about the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation? Are they always auto-friendly?

There is an article today in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that talks about the region's $30 billion plan for transportation, which includes Marta rail expansion as well as a lot of commuter rail. The article was talking about how all of this rail expansion would serve a population in which "transit ridership is projected to increase less than 1 percent under an expanded system - from 3,8% of all trips to 4.7% in 2030."

To which the Reason Foundation immediately replied that their $25 billion plan to expand Atlanta's interstates with toll lanes that buses could use would do far more to relieve congestion.

Pfft. First of all, there are places (downtown connector for one) that the interstates really could not be expanded any more. Second of all, do we REALLY want to continue auto-based transit thought. How are they SO SURE that people will not embrace commuter rail if it is done right?

I believe they are always auto-friendly. And their $25B plan includes a tunnel under the city which solves the downtown connector expansion/space issue. Hopefully, nobody ever listens to them where Atlanta is concerned.

There should be a thread around somewhere discussing their $25B plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.