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Train In Vain, Bus In Disgust

This blog will chronicle my usage of public transit in the Atlanta area, in an attempt to vent and provide solutions on how to make the system better

MARTA got an "F" from me yesterday.

The eastbound train arrived on-time at the Avondale station somewhere between 6:50-6:55 (can't remember), in enough time for me to catch the scheduled 7:05 departing bus.  Got to the bus terminal, no bus, could be a good sign, that it hasn't got there yet, or a bad sign that I just missed it.  Well, around 7:05-ish, sure enough, the 114 pulls up! Oddly, the driver passes the stand for the 114, and proceeds to the station entrance to drop off the lone rider (and his bicycle).  How courteous! I'll just wait for him to pull back around and pick me and the rest of the waiting riders up...

Well, the driver LEAVES the bus terminal, heading to the Laredo bus facility, i assume.  Maybe he ran out of gas? I dunno, never saw him again to ask him!!! WHAT??? Ok, maybe that bus went out of service (the sign didn't say that) and the REAL 7:05 bus is right behind...no dice...more passengers show up, and this is where it gets real disheartening and empathetic.

A girl and her friend who are 1st-time riders of this bus are frantically trying to get to a nearby shopping center to pick up some shoes before the store closes at 8:00...had the 7:05 bus picked us up AS ADVERTISED, they coulda bought, tried on and walked back to the station for the next bus in that time! Well, the "next" bus came, at 7:32...and sat there, until 7:53...someone asked the driver what happened to the "previous" bus...He said "one of the buses broke down at the Health Care Facility"...????...you mean, the bus that I saw drop the bike rider off?

Long story short, I think the girl made it to the shoe store right at closing, but this was one of those experiences that would really turn somebody off from CHOOSING to ride MARTA...

What should've happened? Once they knew the scheduled 7:50 bus would be late, they should've IMMEDIATELY put another bus in service at the station to pick up the passengers who have probably been waiting since the earlier bus left (6:25)...or, the 7:36 bus should've picked up and left as soon as it got there, and then put another bus in service to catch the 7:50 crowd...

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Decaturette August 10, 2012 at 02:02 PM
MARTA train service tends to be great, especially on the East-West line. Bus service is unreliable. Always has been. But that's fairly true in other cities as well. Bus service is harder to understand and harder to rely on. Track service, maybe because it's fixed, is nicely mapped and scheduled. Even in NYC. Definitely in L.A. and Boston. The only big U.S. city where I've seen bus service that ran like clockwork is Chicago. I hear Seattle's is pretty good but haven't tried it.
Nick August 10, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Train service was great this morning, no complaints! (i catch an Xpress/Gwinnett bus at Doraville), we'll see how the evening commute goes! MARTA has a "WebWatch: Precision Real-Time Bus Monitor" system, but it can currently only be accessed via a computer (or your mobile browser), they are supposedly working on a mobile app. That would be a HUGE asset to their operations and their riders! (You can, however, sign up for email bus alerts). http://webwatch.itsmarta.com/ I tried this app, looks like it woulda been neat, but MARTA is currently not supporting it: http://spice.ridecell.com/
Bryan Farley August 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
The bus you say dropping off the bike rider was probably the bus that was suppose to get to the station at 7:10. That bus was suppose to go out of service because the buses were coming off of 20 minute headways. The 7:32 bus was the bus to arrive at the station at 7:30 and was suppose to be there and wait until the next scheduled departure at 7:50. While I agree that there should have been a bus sent to pick up the 7:05 passengers to give MARTA an F is a little far fetched, especially when 1) you can't control a bus breaking down, 2) everything else you said shows MARTA being on schedule, and 3) you don't know if MARTA even had the resources (i.e. drivers) to send another bus out there, since buses don't drive themselves. If MARTA just had a stand by driver sitting there waiting and doing nothing making 20 bucks an hour you would then hear how MARTA is wasting money paying a guy to do nothing. Another catch 22 of MARTA being downed no matter what it does.

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