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Wheels & Heels: Doing the Decatur Shuttle

Soon, a Decatur resident might be able to hop on a gofl cart for a trip across town. The city wants to know what you think.

Imagine it. You want to return a book to the library, and instead of having to fire up the car, you can just walk to the corner and hop on a golf cart.  

Or, you decide you want to drink several high-test brews at the Brick Store Pub and, instead of risking a DUI on the way home, you wait for a shuttle to get to dinner and safely home.

Perhaps you work from home and, with a shuttle service circulating, you decide you don't really have to replace the old minivan when it wheezes its last breath of fossil fuels.

That’s why I really like the idea being mulled by Decatur city leaders to provide shuttle transportation, possibly golf carts, around Georgia's most densely populated city. Already, Decatur residents who work at Emory can hop on a Emory shuttle to get from downtown to the campus.

Here’s some of the reasons I like the idea:

Solves Parking Problems: Parking in downtown Decatur is a growing hassle. With a shuttle, you don’t have to worry about where to park or whether you have enough quarters to feed the meters. You just hop on. A shuttle might induce more locals to patronize local businesses. We’d save land and money because we wouldn’t need to build as many concrete structures for the sole purpose of parking cars.

On nights when there's music on the square, the shuttle will be PACKED!

Car-free Decatur: With a free or low-cost shuttle to get residents into downtown and back, residents might eschew cars. Instead of needing a car for mom, dad and the teenager, a family such as mine might be able to live with fewer cars.

Shuttle to school? Here’s a wild thought. What if we could use some of the school buses that local citizens already PAY FOR to help transport folks around town? They’re just parked in a parking lot most of the time. Decatur is a charter school system; Decatur could opt for a broader use of school buses than merely transporting students to school. If the bus and golf cart transportation system could be coordinated, we might even be able to get away with fewer buses, and fewer parents driving their children to school, and a school bus schedule that met the needs of most of the parents.

Healthier Decatur: If we all drive less, we'll have healthier air. People might decide walking a few blocks is no big deal. Many folks are already walking around town, but this might lure a few more into using sole power to get around.

For such a service to get off the ground, it would have to be free at first, or at least very low cost. It would have to run frequently enough so that people wouldn’t have to wait. And it would help if it had an added element of fun.

The city wants to know what the citizens think about this, and you can email your thoughts to Lyn Menne at lyn.menne@decaturga.com.

I don’t know whether Decatur-ites are patient enough to wait more than 10 minutes for a shuttle going downtown, but I sure think it would be fun.

Nonie Ravenberg April 09, 2011 at 04:16 PM
I want to drive!
Sonia Madrigal April 12, 2011 at 01:42 AM
Nice thought as an alternative, but I would never give up the freedom my car affords me for a shuttle. It would only be a once in a while thing. I did the bus thing in college and a few freezing winter nights or rainfalls make anyone wish for a car and a parking structure.
gail April 14, 2011 at 08:10 PM
I love this idea! I live in Avondale Estates and my child attends school in Decatur. I drive in Decatur every day, twice most days. Much of the time I'm doing drive-thru errands or groceries and the convenience of a car can't be beat. On the other hand, the days when I have lunch/dinner/coffee and shop or attend events are the days I'd love to have a shuttle available. Dual purpose for the school buses is brilliant; although, they would need to be easy to hop on and off! I believe that, if it's free or inexpensive and frequent then people will find a way to take advantage of it. I would. We're living in a changing climate. Urban cities need to find ways to accomodate clean transportation and energy. The city-hub where people walk, bike or shuttle will probably become the new model for living. Decatur is already well positioned to transition to this type of life-style.

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