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Atlanta traffic hits peak terribleness as workweek progresses; Uber steps up service

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In the wake of Interstate 85’s collapse, traffic has worsened, forcing public transit and ride-sharing services to vie for riders

A map showing bad traffic on the northern Perimeter and on major roads throughout the city.
Traffic on Tuesday evening during rush hour. Ouch.
Google Maps

As expected, traffic troubles stemming from the Interstate 85 bridge collapse have worsened since easy-breezy last week.

With schools back from Spring Break, Monday was the first real test of how things would go for the metro at full volume. Predictably, car commutes (and some MARTA parking situations) were pretty rough.

Yesterday, the struggles were apparent during the evening rush hour.

Just after 5 p.m., Waze was indicating a trip from downtown to Sandy Spring would take at least 45 minutes via Interstate 75, while a trip to Alpharetta would take over an hour.

Trip times for those hoping to get to Gwinnett County weren’t much better, with a drive to Duluth from the city reportedly taking more than an hour.

For those opting to take public transit, the trend of full parking lots at MARTA stations continued. To ease congestion and help riders find a place to park, the transit agency created a page to check the live status of parking availability and was actively tweeting updates throughout the morning for commuters.

MARTA ridership has skyrocketed as commuters seek alternatives to fighting traffic. Uber has also looked at leveraging the traffic woes by offering discounted rates to and from train stations.

On Monday, Uber unveiled a flat-fare scheme, allowing Atlantans to pre-purchase UberPOOL trips for $2.49 per ride to many points across the metro area, from Morrow to Roswell. (Lyft is now offering a similar discounted service to train stations during peak hours.)

By creating a prepaid pass-type system, the Uber ride-share service is dabbling in a public transit-like service model. And with MARTA rides $2.50 each, it’s hard to argue that Uber won’t attract people away from MARTA thanks to similar pricing and far more flexibility in terms of reach.

Of course, Uber is still subject to traffic, whereas MARTA trains are not, and any rides that would normally cost more than $25 will incur fees beyond the flat price.

Still, on Tuesday evening, a trip to Sandy Springs using UberPOOL was running nearly $20, meaning those who opted for flat-fare pricing were saving a substantial amount of money.

The Uber flat fare zone.
Uber

With eight weeks left (at least) until the bridge is slated to open, expect the terrible traffic to persist.