Riding MARTA has become a necessity for many commuters stranded by the collapse of the I-85 bridge.
Since repairs will probably require weeks, if not months, more first-time riders will be trying the rail system.
Here are a few pointers for MARTA newbies:
Riders can purchase a one-ride pass or a day-pass at vending machines in MARTA stations. One-use Breeze tickets can be loaded with a fare only once, and expire after 90 days.
Repeat users will want to buy a Breeze card, which can be loaded with multiple fares. Each one-way fare is $2.50.
Notice: Blue Breeze cards, which have been in use for years, are going to disappear March 31. They will be replaced by silver Breeze cards. After March 31, blue Breeze cards can’t be reloaded with fares, and after July 9, blue Breeze cards won’t be accepted. So it’s a good idea not to load up your blue Breeze card with extra fares.
Silver Breeze cards can be purchased for $2 at Breeze vending machines, at MARTA RideStores or online.
Tap the Breeze card on the blue Breeze “target” to the right of the fare gate; it will beep and open. Keep in mind Breeze cards cannot be used for multiple passengers. Each passenger must have his or her own Breeze card. (Children under 46 inches can ride free, limited to two children per paying adult.)
Trains are marked with the last station that they travel to. This MARTA map (martaguide.com/rail-station-map/) offers a guide to every stop on every line. The Red Line travels from the airport in the south through Five Points to North Springs in the north. At the Lindbergh station, the Gold Line splits off from the Red Line and continues northeast to Doraville.
The Blue Line travels from Indian Creek in the east passing through Decatur and Five Points to H.E. Holmes in the west. The Green Line also travels east and west, and branches off the Blue Line to stop at Bankhead. The eastbound Green Line ends at the Edgewood/Candler Park station, but eastbound passengers can change to the Blue Line there.
Trains usually stop at every station on the line.
Passengers can change between all lines at Five Points; they can change between the Red and Gold lines at the Lindbergh station.
Google Transit can help you pick out the MARTA train lines to use for particular destinations.
Once in the stations, look for the northbound, southbound, eastbound or westbound platforms.
At each station entrance, there are extra-wide fare gates to accommodate wheelchairs, bicycles, strollers, luggage and families with children.
When exiting the station, tap your Breeze card again on the blue “target” to open the fare gate. This will also load your card with a free bus transfer.
This site (martaguide.com/10-easiest-destinations-to-get-to-on-marta/) gives suggestions about the 10 easiest destinations on MARTA, including Lenox Square, Georgia State University, the Fox Theatre and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Hungry MARTA riders might enjoy these restaurants, all of which are near a MARTA train station.
MARTA buses run over 91 routes to many more destinations than MARTA trains, and cover more than 1,000 route-miles. A bus schedule and map can be found at www.itsmarta.com/bus-schedules.aspx.