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.
Also, 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.