MARTA is taking an innovative approach to an age-old transit conundrum: How to attract more riders in neighborhoods where it can be just a bit too far to walk to the nearest rail station or bus stop.
In transportation circles, it’s known as the first-mile/last-mile challenge.
Enter MARTA Reach.
This pilot program enables riders to schedule a ride on a MARTA Reach shuttle bus to or from rail stations and bus stops within three “zones” – West Atlanta, near the H.E. Holmes rail station; Belvedere in central DeKalb County, south of the East Lake, Decatur, and Avondale stations; and the Gillem Logistics Center area in Clayton County, which includes several major bus routes.
Here’s how it works:
- Say you live near to the East Lake rail station in DeKalb County, but it’s too far to walk.
- You are able to schedule a MARTA Reach mini-bus to pick you up at the station and drop you off at the Reach “virtual stop” nearest to your destination, similar to Uber or Lyft.
- Rides cost $2.50, same as a rail or bus fare, and are scheduled by smartphone app or by calling MARTA Customer Service.
- It’s a ride-share service, so you’ll probably be traveling with a few other passengers.
- Wait times are about 15 minutes, depending on traffic and time of day.
Check out this nifty MARTA video explaining the service.
MARTA says it’s partnering on the 6-month pilot with Georgia Tech “to test how on-demand shuttles can be used to make it easier and faster for our riders to get to and from their destinations using MARTA … and expand the reach of our buses and trains.”
The coverage is extensive within the three zones. Here’s a map showing the MARTA Reach virtual stops in the Belvedere Zone, shown in red here. The blue circles are regular MARTA bus stops.
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.