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Atlanta’s I-85 bridge collapse: the bright side for alternate transportation

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MARTA Breeze Cards are selling like Atlanta United tickets right now, but can it last?

A Marta train leaves downtown Atlanta headed east in this photo. Curbed Atlanta

Could the literal collapse of a mega-roadway lead metro Atlantans toward a paradigm shift of adopting alternate means of transportation on a more widespread, permanent basis?

Maybe not, but early signs are encouraging. And the elimination of a crucial interstate artery for the city is translating to positive PR for the MARTA network, its growing legion of volunteers, and even bicycle advocates.

MARTA ridership has surged since Thursday’s inferno took down I-85. We haven’t seen finalized tallies for Monday, but one MARTA official said ridership climbed up to 73 percent on the north end of their transit lines during rush hour. Systemwide, ridership had increase 20 percent since Friday.

Even with Atlanta’s beloved Spring Break in full swing, parking lots this morning at Doraville and North Springs stations were full by about 8 a.m., MARTA announced via Twitter.

The sudden ridership boost has spurred the 400 volunteers of MARTA Army into action.

Volunteers in MARTA safety vests have been positioned at the busiest stations Monday and today to help newbie riders purchase Breeze Cards and navigate the system, officials said.

They were spotted diligently providing guidance downtown, and the Army reports that 40 volunteers total lent help throughout the region yesterday. That sounds like a terrific way for a nascent nonprofit to ingratiate itself with a broad swath of the community.

In other news, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is offering free bike classes this month to help commuters “hack their commute” in the wake of the interstate collapse.

Find all the details here, but the ABC briefly describes the initiative as follows:

“Launching the week of April 3, ABC is expanding its existing bike class offerings to include a free class series, designed specifically for Atlanta drivers considering alternatives in light of the I-85 collapse.

For Atlanta residents who already know how to ride a bike, but want to learn tips for getting around the I-85 affected areas, and learn city-riding skills, the following classes are available: Friday, April 7 at 6 p.m.; Sunday, April 9 at 1 p.m.; Monday, April 10 at 11 a.m.; and Friday, April 14 at 6 p.m.”

Here’s a H/T to being proactive, ATL.