MARTA needs expansion, limited range harms city

Alex Durham, Comment Assistant Managing Editor

For thousands of people living in the city of Atlanta, The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is the primary mode of transportation. The rail and bus lines provide easy access to key locations around the city, such as Georgia State University, the airport, Little Five Points and Lenox Square mall. But for those living outside of Atlanta in areas like Cobb and Gwinnett counties, MARTA is no help.

Current MARTA rails cover areas only inside I-285 (also known as The Perimeter), with North Springs the farthest station from its central hub at Five Points Station. If you live outside The Perimeter and need to get to Atlanta, you are out of luck. Residents have to either commute to the closest MARTA station and take that train into the city, or commute directly to their  destinations, which can be extremely time and gas consuming, especially during rush hour.

This creates a serious problem for people who work inside the city but can’t afford to live inside it. The lack of MARTA stations in Atlanta’s suburbs forces those people to seek alternative means of transporting themselves into the city, which can be a reason why people are finding jobs elsewhere. Fortunately, the solution to this dilemma is simple: expand MARTA into those counties outside of Atlanta.

In March, four members of Gwinnett’s delegation to the state legislature, the General Assembly, proposed a resolution to expand MARTA and other mass transportation into the county. The resolution detailed a plan to expand MARTA into the Infinite Energy Arena, one of the most populated areas in Gwinnett. The resolution came amidst a public outcry to bring any sort of mass transportation to the area to make transportation into Atlanta and other areas around Atlanta easier.

The rationale behind the proposal is that a more comprehensive MARTA map will bring a positive influence to the county as well as Atlanta. This particular MARTA expansion is expected to bring a massive reduction in traffic congestion. Gwinnett, one of the most highly populated counties in the state with 907,135 people, is overwhelmed due to the sheer amount of commuters coming through Gwinnett into Atlanta. With a MARTA station in one of the most populated areas of the county, traffic congestion would be minimized and commute times into the city would be decreased.

The other main area where a new MARTA station should be installed is near or on the Emory University campus. Currently, Georgia State,Georgia Tech and the Atlanta University Center, which includes Spelman and Morehouse colleges and Clark Atlanta University, have  MARTA stations near or on campus, and there is no reason why Emory shouldn’t have a station as well.

MARTA would allow students who don’t live near the campus to have an easy and efficient way to get to class instead of forcing them to sit in Atlanta traffic every morning, which would reduce the overall number of cars on the roads during the workweek.

The city is changing; the population is growing exponentially, and jobs are being created as businesses expand into Atlanta. With the city changing, its transit system should change too. MARTA is an authority that should be trying to extend its service to any area that could make good use of it, and expanding the rail service would only decrease the amount of traffic coming into Atlanta and help people commute to their jobs and educational institutions.