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Could MARTA be Poised for Major Ridership Boost?

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Urban transit foundation hails TOD efforts around ATL; criticizes streetcar

They say Atlanta is moving in the right direction to drive transit ridership up.

This according to findings by Transit Center, a foundation that works to improve urban mobility and has created a report outlining many of the factors that encourage people to take transit.

While some of the concepts are rather obvious like "developing transit in walkable areas and offering frequent, fast bus and rail service are the key drivers of increasing urban transit ridership," the report does take notice of (and hopefully validates, in a way) the construction of an array of transit-oriented developments popping up at stations across the MARTA system.

Stats were compiled from 17 cities across the country, including Atlanta. Unlike New York and Chicago, for instance, where many people utilize transit to commute and run errands, the study found the majority of Atlanta transit patrons — some 62 percent — are "occasional riders" who use MARTA only for specific events.

Sounds about right. For now.

The report also highlights one of Atlanta’s transit missteps; a paragraph exploring the shortcomings of the Atlanta Streetcar indicates that the criticism of lack of dedicated right-of-way may actually be trumped by the fact that much of the line is "in a heavily disinvested neighborhood with little development."

While the report may offer no earth-shattering recommendations, it does serve as a useful framework as Atlanta seeks to expand transit in the coming years.