A different type of journey

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

The following is local, but just wanted to re-post for the time capsule:

During my three-year stint in Cobb County well over 20 years ago, I attempted to go from my Cobb Parkway apartment over to Sandy Springs to pick up my car which was in the shop. I boarded a county bus which took me to Cumberland Mall where I boarded another county bus. That bus took me to the MARTA Arts Center Station. From Arts Center, I went up to the Lindbergh Center Station. From Lindbergh, I boarded a MARTA bus up to my Roswell Road destination.

My bus/rail journey seemed to take me the entire day. Certainly, I could have gotten one of my fellow apartment dwellers to take me to the shop – like I had done several times before that day. But, I wanted to find out just how much of a hassle it would be to use public transportation to go across town. Yes, I had a lot more time on my hands in those days, but the excursion was eye-opening. To make a long story somewhat shorter, I couldn’t wait to move back to Peachtree Corners where I am not terribly far from the MARTA Doraville Station when I need to ride public transportation.

 I was reminded of my trip when State Senator Brandon Beach wrote a piece for the AJC Forward discussion section. Senator Beach rode public transportation from Kennesaw State University to the Gwinnett Arena. Similar to  what I attempted in the early ’90s, Senator Beach boarded two Cobb County Transit buses to the MARTA Arts Center Station. He then rode the train up to Lindbergh Center where he changed over to a Doraville train. Once at Doraville, Senator Beach rode a bus that dropped him off two blocks from the Gwinnett Arena. The 32-mile journey took Senator Beach three hours and 35 minutes. He pointed out that he could have taken a flight from here to New York in less time.

Some might find these types of journeys quite shocking, saying that the Atlanta metro region can do better. I think most of us in the real world agree that something needs to be done about our challenging traffic, but soon discover that we are on different pages as to finding solutions. There are those who feel that generous transportation funding is the answer while others like Senator Beach feel that these transportation systems ought to be unified. Senator Beach points out that he found the Cobb County Transit, MARTA and the Gwinnett system to be clean, efficient and dependable, but he had to pay for three separate systems. I’m not sure if transportation unification is the complete answer to our traffic woes, but it’s certainly a start. Perhaps a combination of agency unification, (limited) alternative road route construction and rail expansion could ease the situation. Still, all of those ideas require wise infrastructure investment, but how do we get to that point? That’s a tough question to answer since funding mechanisms like T-SPLOST go down in defeat. Certainly, a gas tax wouldn’t be popular in this environment nor would more toll booths earmarking those monies towards infrastructure.

We can argue until we are all blue in the face about the Atlanta metro area’s car-choked roads, but I feel what Senator Beach wrote towards the end of his AJC column to be quite eye-opening. Senator Beach wrote that customers do not care about what the bus is named or how federal money flows to an agency. He wrote that, “…they (customers) want to know that the bus arrives on time and they can depend on a reliable, clean and safe ride that will get them to work on time.”

 

 

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