Increased MARTA Frequency Strengthens Transit Appeal for Midtown Commuters
Weekday rail service is now every 12 minutes during peak periods vs. every 15 minutes
BY BRIAN CARR
MARTA recently announced changes that bring increased frequency for rail service systemwide, which is welcome news for commuters heading to and from Midtown. The service tweaks mean reduced headways (the amount of time between transit vehicle arrivals at a stop), with trains now arriving every 12 minutes during peak periods, down from every 15 minutes.
For more details on the schedule change and a look at the specific times for the increased frequency window, visit ItsMARTA.com. The changes went into effect August 26.
In recent months, MARTA has flexed more rail service for special events like the Beyonce Renaissance Tour concerts in Downtown Atlanta. But this new commitment to offer expanded service every weekday carries the long-term potential to bring more riders into the fold: one of the known perennial barriers to getting commuters on board with transit is the lack of frequency and the longer waits between trains.
Data Dive: MARTA Passenger Activity at Midtown Stations is Trending Up
Monthly station boardings and exits in Midtown have been increasing this year versus 2022, one signal that more workers are returning to the district:
Midtown Commuter Leah Thomas Chooses MARTA as Her Go-To Option
We spoke with Midtown commuter Leah Thomas about the new service tweaks and her MARTA experience. When it comes to taking the train, Leah is a seasoned veteran. She has been riding MARTA for occasional trips down to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport since the mid-1990s. And she has been riding the train regularly to her job at ATT for more than a decade.
“I’m very happy about the increased service,” Thomas said. “Because the more trains, the quicker you can get to where you need to be. You don’t have to stand around waiting as long.”
In our conversation, we flash back to what got Thomas started on MARTA as her daily go-to commute option. What’s the origin story? According to her, it all began when she saw a co-worker’s travel mug.
“My colleague arrived to work with this big, awesome Georgia Commute Options cup that showed she was a Commuter Champion,” Thomas said of her co-worker’s prized possession.
“I said, ‘that’s a pretty nice cup you’ve got there,’” she recalled of the conversation with her co-worker. “And she said she earned it for logging 25,000 miles of commute trips by choosing alternatives to driving alone. And then I said, ‘I want to do that, too.’”
Regional Commuter Program Brings Recognition and Prizes
Thomas participates in the Georgia Commute Options program, a regional effort to reduce drive-alone commute trips into and out of workplaces, which helps reduce traffic and improve air quality. Midtown Alliance’s Midtown Transportation team administers the program in the district by offering consulting services to workplaces and assisting commuters. Among the offerings are financial incentives to commuters who make the switch from driving alone and stick with it. Leah documents her commute trips in a weekly online log for the chance to win $25 gift cards.
“It’s easy to do,” she said of logging her commute. “You just have to remember to complete it and pay attention to e-mail reminders.”
ATT Makes it Easy for Their Midtown Workforce to Get Started with MARTA Transit Passes
But for many commuters making the switch to transit, the hardest part is learning to plan ahead and manage time. Leah’s commute takes her from the Chamblee MARTA station inbound to the North Avenue station, a one-seat ride to work. When asked about getting started on MARTA, Thomas said “It was easy to work through my employer to get my Breeze card set up. Once you learn the schedules, you can time your trips perfectly. I arrive to work at the same time every day, and get to spend 20 minutes relaxing in the courtyard next to my office before I start my day.”
MARTA Puts More Lunch Options Within Reach in Midtown
And at the lunch hour, Thomas and her co-workers have figured out how to use MARTA to discover more places to eat in Midtown beyond the immediate vicinity of their office building. Some of her favorite lunch spots that are worth the trip are DaVinci’s Pizza and McCray’s Tavern, as well as Whole Foods, all of which are located near the Arts Center MARTA station and an easy ride from her offices.
Stats to Brag About
Thomas’ cumulative efforts at riding MARTA have helped her make a positive difference that benefits everybody in the region. Since 2020, she has reduced a combined 17,500 miles of vehicle travel from the roads via her commute on MARTA, reclaiming valuable minutes out of her day to do the things she enjoys and saving $10,000 on gas and car expenses while keeping 15K pounds of pollution and CO2 out of the air we all breathe.
Her message to other Midtown commuters looking for options to make their return to office routine better is about shedding off the stress that comes with driving alone.
“Taking MARTA is much easier and more relaxing than driving,” she said. “You don’t have to deal with the traffic and people cutting you off. You can sit back, read something on your phone, and before you know it, you’re at work.”
For details on how you can get started with Midtown Transportation’s commuter services and take advantage of increased MARTA rail service, visit MidtownATL.com/MT.