Never short on innovative ideas, the folks behind Ponce City Market have announced a new means of getting their business tenants and apartment renters to and from the nearest MARTA rail station: shuttles. The shuttle service, PCM officials readily admit, is a stopgap measure, or lipstick on Atlanta's malnourished public transit pig. But it's a start — and a transit option that could very well be copied. After all, the shuttle service could be a win-win proposition: Residents and employees get a reliable, free means of avoiding a laborious walk to the nearest MARTA station or paying bus fare, and PCM can flash its brand all over Midtown with every trip it makes. There's no word on route intervals, but PCM officials use "shuttles" in the plural; with 1.3 miles to the North Avenue MARTA Station (five minutes in light traffic), it's a safe bet riders won't be left waiting for long. Might we one day see similar MARTA shuttles emblazoned with "Buckhead Atlanta," "The Westside Express" or "Fuqua's Fantastic People Mover"?
Atlantic Station began offering a shuttle service years ago to remedy a similar problem: a gaping lack of direct MARTA connectivity. In announcing the shuttle service, PCM brass concedes that "it isn't always the easiest decision to use an alternative form of transportation — there are much quicker ways to get to work in the morning," but they also stress being proactive, rather than reactive: "While our city is working hard to provide better access to these alternative options in the future, (it's) up to us to make it accessible right now."
While the cavernous building has only just begun to fill up with actual people who live and work there, we can't help wondering how many of them are reliant on MARTA now or plan to be. Maybe athenahealth workers still trying to offload their Alpharetta homes — or keeping the homes and braving the daily commute?
Officials close the shuttle announcement with this uplifting tidbit: "Through smaller initiatives, we hope to help to provide more transformative transportation options for Atlantans. Our city is on its way to doing some wonderful things and we're looking forward to seeing and being a part of the progress." Golf clap, golf clap.
At the very least, here's hoping this helps cure the traffic nightmare that is Old Fourth Ward's stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue — home of the weekend bottleneck.