Commuter Spotlight: Terry Takes Transit in Atlanta + Around the World
“It’s really important to be involved in the life of the general city—interacting on a human level with other people. In the car, you don’t get a chance to do that."
Terry Garibaldi is a world traveler, a tennis player, a parent, and a professional manager at Kilpatrick Townsend in Midtown. Every day, her commute from Sandy Springs involves driving to the nearby Sandy Springs MARTA station, taking the train to the Midtown Station and either walking or riding her bike to work from there.
She first used MARTA when the Sandy Springs station first came online in 2000, and since then it’s been her go-to commute option.
To Terry, MARTA is more than just a convenient way to get to work; it’s a network for navigating the city. She uses MARTA to get to outings with friends, doctors, dentists and other appointments for herself and her children.
Years of Savings
Although Terry is now a self-described public transportation advocate, she said that the switch to MARTA was initially a financial decision for her.
“I did the math and I realized that I could save a tremendous amount of money and put back into the family budget by using transit. The amount of money was staggering. When you put gas and tolls and parking together—we’re talking thousands of dollars in savings.”
Terry, who has worked in law and accounting for decades, tallied up the savings which were not only in gas and parking, but other hidden costs too. For example, she used to have to spend a dollar per day on the now-eliminated tolls on GA 400. And due to her low car mileage from years of commuting via MARTA, she has avoided pricey car insurance costs and prevented a significant amount of car maintenance costs. All in all, she estimates she saves up to $5,000 per year because of her cleaner commute.
“My husband and I have been able to save for our kids’ colleges and put money aside for our own retirement,” said Terry. “And it adds up."
The Benefits of Transit
Once she got started on a regular MARTA commute, Terry started enjoying the time on the train by trying different podcasts, reading books and listening to music. “I’m not in traffic worrying, feeling that tension about being stuck behind a car,” she said.
Terry also appreciates the benefit of feeling connected to other Atlantans, recognizing familiar faces and even making friends though MARTA.
“It’s really important to be involved in the life of the general city—interacting on a human level with other people,” Terry said. “If you just get in the car and go home, you don’t get a chance to do that.”
Terry, who is concerned about climate change and air quality in Atlanta, said that her commute method makes a difference, even though she’s just one person.
“My philosophy has been that I can’t change the world—I can only change me. I can make the impact I want to make and I can be committed to my own change," Terry said. "If I can take one car off the highway and convince one person to take another car off the highway—then I’ve done my part.”
Public Transportation Around the World
Whether Terry is in Shanghai visiting her son or in Central America with her husband, she’ll turn to public transportation to navigate and explore her destinations. “I’ve used transit all over the country and the world,” she said. “It’s something that I think more people should do.”
Terry’s commute tips include packing a change of clothing for work if biking is part of your commute, and making sure you have a rideshare app downloaded on your phone in case you need to get somewhere public transportation can’t take you.
You don’t have to work in accounting to tally savings from a clean commute. Log your commute on Georgia Commute Options and see how much money you save from switching from driving.
For those of you who already have a clean commute, the Guaranteed Ride Home program is available through Georgia Commute Options. Through the program, you can receive up to five free rides home from work if an unexpected event occurs. Current commuters via transit, carpools, vanpools and bike are eligible.
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