MARTA, Uber, and the Future of Transportation

Fresh off a new wave of enthusiasm for transit in Atlanta, MARTA is now announcing two new initiatives to solidify its new image as a draw for Millennials: free wi-fi and Uber.

The wi-fi proposal is relatively simple, according to Saporta Report’s scoop: MARTA executives announced Thursday that it would immediately implement free wi-fi services on 50 MARTA buses, with plans to expand that service to all buses, rail stations, and trains in a year’s time.

Uber on the MARTA AppAlso, MARTA has teamed up with Uber in a partnership to further invigorate the MARTA experience. Truthfully, however, the word “partnership” may be overselling what is actually happening here. At this point, that partnership seems to entail simply giving MARTA users a free discount at Uber in exchange for Uber advertising on the MARTA app.

But Uber regularly gives out free rides to first-time users, so the MARTA discount (just type “MARTAGuide” into your Uber app) is nothing new.

Additionally, even the integration into the MARTA app isn’t all that revolutionary. I pulled up the app myself on my phone to see how MARTA is using Uber and discovered the transit agency had simply included a link out to the Uber app on a list of options buried under the “More” menu.

That said, there’s no denying that both MARTA and Uber share a common goal: building a metro Atlanta region where owning multiple cars becomes increasingly unnecessary. Uber makes it more likely that residents will feel more comfortable giving up one of their cars, and the ride-sharing company also helps those outside MARTA’s corridors connect to transit.

But if Georgia’s leaders want to continue to attract talent to the state, they’ll need to continue investing in these initiatives that make our cities more livable. It’s no secret that Millennials (like myself) are flocking to cities in droves, and more and more people are beginning to realize the economic impact a robust transit system can have on a region.

But to Saporta’s credit, the article also includes a sobering thought that should be a required kicker for every promising story praising the future of MARTA:

MARTA is the largest transit agency in the nation to not receive annual operating funds from its state government.

Without buy-in from the state, Atlanta may never be the Mecca for Millennials and jobs of which the corporate community so often dreams.

11 comments

  1. Raleigh says:

    So if MARTA received operating funds from Georgia all would be well and Corporations and Millennials would flock to the region and create so many jobs that we would have to pay people to move here to take them.

    I think I hear a song from Dark Side of the Moon playing in the background……

    • ATLguy says:

      All right, let’s try your idea. It would have to be something that has actually worked in practice, not in theory. It would also have to be something that acknowledges a reality that conservatives seem to ignore: that the highest paying, most desirable jobs are almost uniformly in the northeast (finance, banking, insurance) and far west (technology) and that red states primarily rely on (declining) manufacturing and agricultural jobs as well as (lower paying) service jobs plus military installations.

      Yes, bashing the pointy headed urban liberals and the leaders that they elect is fun (especially when those leaders have names like Barack Hussein and Mohammed Kasim) but when you look at the actual economies of red states, they have horrible records of attracting high paying jobs or developing their own industries. Before you say “what about Texas” … well Texas is doing the things that Democrats in Georgia want to EMULATE: equalizing spending among public school districts (imposed on them by a federal judge), heavy spending on higher education, and yes support for urban transit (and highway) infrastructure in places like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin etc. (which by the way just happens to be where most of the high paying jobs are … the more conservative parts of the state don’t do so hot economically especially when oil prices get too low).

      You conservatives need to realize that having Mississippi’s economic policies mean that you will get Mississippi’s economic results. If a single state in the nation has gotten northern California’s economic results or Connecticut’s economic results with Mississippi’s economic policies, I would certainly like to hear about it. Especially since even those conservative talk radio and oped columnist types tend to go to places like liberal New York and liberal Washington D.C. to get jobs. Sean Hannity left Alabama for liberal Atlanta and then for New York because he couldn’t get a job like that – a national TV and radio personality – in Alabama. So he uses his New York City jobs to promote economic policies that have never worked for the state that he left decades ago. If they did, he would still be there. Rush Limbaugh? Ditto. Sure, he is now living in Florida, but he had to leave the heartland to go to New York City to become a major media star. He only moved to Florida after he had long made his reputation and money and is now in semi-retired status. The list goes on and on, and pretty soon guys on your side will have to start figuring it out.

      • Raleigh says:

        Goodness, let’s see MARTA has been talking about what, EXPANDING! Oh My God that can’t happen they get no tax support from people in Valdosta, Macon, Savannah, or Gainesville areas. MY my that’s just crazy talk…

        However you Liberals need to realize having New York style economic policies will give us New York style taxes too. If that’s what you want the answer is simple, move to New York.

    • ATLguy says:

      No. MARTA could be great if it:

      A) were allowed to expand to the metro area’s largest population and employment centers

      B) had the funds to operate more trains and buses in the areas that it has

      Seriously, what it always comes down to is whether one fundamentally supports MARTA or not. Most don’t, so big shock there. But consider the reasons.

      Most MARTA opposition is due to:
      A) opposition to public transit in general
      B) opposition to it because of who runs it and those who elect them

      Folks in group A) should recognize that there are plenty of successful public transit systems in this country, and success does not only mean “turn an operating profit” (as the vast majority of commercial airports in this country do not turn an operating profit, and the only highways that do so are toll roads).

      Folks in group B) are simply segregationists and their descendants. Responsible politicians – including Republicans and conservatives – should ignore them. It is good that it appears that after decades of pandering to those folks, the governor and legislature are FINALLY starting to do exactly that. Maybe that means that in 10-15 years leaders at the local level will start doing the same.

      • benevolus says:

        You forgot people like joe, who apparently can’t see beyond whether something has a direct and immediate benefit to HIM. Trying to make the case that improved public transport attracts more jobs and grows the economy is too indirect of a benefit.

        • Trey A. says:

          It’s amazing to me that the same investment and growth formula conservatives use personally (invest wisely with an eye on future trends to achieve better returns) goes completely out the window when they’re talking about public money.

          Then you have case studies like those folks running Cobb County–resisting economically sound MARTA expansion for decades, but giving away hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars to lure the Braves from downtown Atlanta. They’ve got to be in Group B, because it’s hard to explain that idiocy in any other way–except for maybe good old fashioned corruption.

  2. FranInAtlanta says:

    I live in DeKalb County north of the Perimeter. I voted for MARTA when their plan promised a station within two miles of my house. Have they built it yet? Answer is NO. Nearest stop for buses is three blocks from my house and the buses do not run all that often.
    One reason MARTA does not have more support is that, in spite of our paying 1% on everything we buy to support it is that it does not support us.

  3. Chamblee says:

    If someone from Griffin would pay for me to go from Chamblee to the braves stadium on Marta then I’d be more than happy to pay for them to take a commuter train to downtown.

    Let’s try and make politics the art of the possible, not the art of who can come up with the worst nicknames for your opponent.,

  4. saltycracker says:

    For those fired up on moving people inter-city, Doing statewide connections alone is not a sound direction. Having just spent time on Amtrak in the NE caused me to appreciate and give them thought.
    Amtrak considers state supported plans part of their core objectives. No idea of the split.
    Go to their website for basic info.
    N.C. Participates.
    Where are we ? Is it too financially unfeasible to us or Amtrak ?
    We already connect Atlanta to Charlotte, B’ham, Tuscaloosa & New Orleans.

    The below 3 GA routes would connect to existing Amtrak tracks.

    Atlanta, Macon, Savannah and
    Atlanta, Columbus, Valdosta, Jax and
    Atlanta, Athens, Augusta,Columbia.

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