MARTA is in talks with telecommunications giant AT&T about a deal that could net the transit agency more than 2,000 new parking spaces at its train stations.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, MARTA is eyeing parking decks used by some of AT&T’s 20,000 metro Atlanta employees at the North Springs, Doraville, and College Park transit stations.
At first blush, the move could seem like a sticking point for advocates of good urbanism, but the locations of the train stops makes the deal a win for transit supporters.
The North Springs and Doraville stations are the northernmost points on MARTA’s Red and Gold lines, respectively, and College Park is the last stop southward before riders arrive at the airport. Parking can be so tight, per the AJC, mayors of those cities have complained about spillover from drivers scrambling for places to leave vehicles and take trains.
Essentially, the logic goes, making MARTA more accessible to drivers at the outermost stations—and using existing infrastructure, no less—could encourage more people to use the transit system.
“Expanding parking might seem like a strange thing for us to praise, but the wonderful part about this proposal is that it involves making better use of existing spaces near MARTA stations, rather than building new ones,” urbanist blog ThreadATL wrote in a tweet.
Presently, all three stations are liable to fill up during business days, and the College Park station becomes a go-to for many travelers during the holiday season.
The decks, which are notoriously underutilized, have also been used by MARTA riders in the past, for a few months after the Interstate 85 bridge collapsed in 2017.
It’s not clear yet how much a deal could cost, but the parking decks, built in the early 2000s, actually stand on MARTA land leased by AT&T.
A MARTA spokesperson noted that AT&T was among the first companies in the region to have the foresight to locate job centers near transit stations.