I-85 Collapse: MARTA Stations Ran Out Of Parking Spaces On Monday
Many first-time riders took to MARTA to commute to work on Monday. The significant increase in ridership caused MARTA parking lots to overflow. MARTA officials were keenly aware of the problem and are diligently working to resolve it. The real test for MARTA will be next Monday when schools' spring breaks end and teachers and students return to Atlanta-area schools. Alleviating the parking problem will require a cooperative effort between MARTA, commuters, and members of the community.
People who rely on MARTA every day to commute to and from work experienced a crowded metro on Monday. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, preliminary reports suggest that ridership increased 45-50% on Monday on MARTA lines that serve the suburbs north of Atlanta. The red and gold lines experienced increased volume of passengers. This estimate was a "snapshot" according to MARTA officials.
MARTA spokespeople also reported that the number of "Breeze" cards skyrocketed on Monday. The officials noted that sales of Breeze cards increased by 100% in some locations. Card purchases exceeded a 100% increase in some spots. The North Springs MARTA train station saw Breeze card sales increase by 111%. In Sandy Springs, sales of Breeze cards were up 172%. Significantly, the purchases were not simply for one round trip. Rather the cards contained sufficient funding for a week or a month's worth of rides on the MARTA system.
Meanwhile, MARTA officials must figure out what they can do to alleviate parking overflow at many MARTA stations. MARTA is keenly aware of the problem and is trying to stay on top of it. They have started a working group to brainstorm ways to find places to park the additional cars. One idea MARTA officials discussed was seeking permission from places like shopping malls and other larger parking facilities near busy MARTA stations to accommodate the parking overflow. MARTA officials understand that this scenario is unlikely will ever happen again and are hoping that they can persuade others to help by allowing riders to park in their facilities.
Commuters themselves can find ways to help with the parking situation. A MARTA spokesperson suggested that carpooling to the station is one way to ease the parking situation. Officials are also asking whether it is possible for riders to leave their cars home by getting rides to and from the station.
Until those issues are resolved, parking will remain an enormous problem at some locations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that by 7:20 a.m. on Monday, as the height of rush hour approached, the North Springs station was full. A MARTA employee had to ask people to try stations further up the line. An hour later, five parking levels at the Sandy Springs parking facility were full, and only half of the spots on the highest level remained open. The parking deck at the Dunwoody stop was at or near capacity by the time the morning commute eased.
Parking structures in other areas were at or just below capacity by 9:00 a.m. Monday. For instance, the College Park and East Point stations reached parking capacity. Inman Park and Chandler Park filled up as well, so too did Kensington Station in Dekalb County.
MARTA officials have not formally announced how they will handle the anticipated spike in riders when school returns to session next week.
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