MARTA Must Reconsider

Due to extenuating circumstances, I had to move a couple of blogposts from the Myspace blog to the Opinions page. In the order of posterity, I shall reprint them here as well.

In the four car-less years that I've been in college, I have become quite familiar with the MARTA public train system. I have seen it's evolution from tokens and turnstiles to breeze cards and laser beam doors. Technology has changed dramatically over time, but the service has not.

I have heard many people complain about rate hikes and confusing machines. I have seen people get more intuitive on skipping fares and seen methods change to stop it. I have smelled more drunkards and urine there than in many walks through the West End. I have touched hands with more panhandlers and crackheads than I have ever cared to encounter.

The MARTA has done all could to ensure that it serves the city of Atlanta with the bare minimum: collect money to transport people. While there have been some new conveniences added like the televisions on the trains, most of the innovations with the system have been new ways to strong-arm the little man.

The Breeze card system requires owning a permanent card or suffering an additional fifty cent fee on a paper card. This is on top of the staggering $1.75 rate per trip. It seems perplexing that MARTA would desire to gouge the consumer if it is trying to do all it can to attract people.

Forcing additional rates on occasional users does nothing to promote using public transportation for occasional events in the city. Visitors would be more likely to use a rental car if transporting around the city is more convenient and if the rates rival the high price of gas. Why should a tourist from another city pay $2.25 to go one way in Atlanta on a public transportation system that is still riddled with problems? The average person may not feel that s/he is getting his/her money's worth out of public transportation.

All that has befell MARTA is overcoming rising costs of serving a city. It receives no state nor city funding but runs prominently through Atlanta and surrounding areas. The public that prefers to use it have little other means of getting about the city. MARTA only continues to function because there is little to no other competition, but does this give the business the right to stiff the citizens on quality service?

MARTA needs to reconsider its business model or continue to suffer the consequences.

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