Hartsfield-Jackson worker commute program getting funding to restart services

Patrons using fare machines at the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport MARTA station. KENT D. JOHNSON AJC File Photo

Patrons using fare machines at the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport MARTA station. KENT D. JOHNSON AJC File Photo

Amid challenges airport workers face paying for parking at Hartsfield-Jackson International or finding other ways to get to work, an airport program to help them with commute options is set to restart once the city accepts grant funding for the program.

>>READ MORE: Commuting brings challenges for Hartsfield-Jackson workers

The Airport Employee Ride Options program, known as AERO for short, offered route planning for workers, helped match workers together based on their routes for carpools and vanpools, and paid workers $5 a day for 90 days for switching to alternative commutes through a partnership with Georgia Commute Options. It also has a guaranteed ride home program for workers who take transit.

It’s similar to other transportation management associations in the Perimeter area, Buckhead, Cumberland, Midtown, downtown and the Clifton corridor.

However, due to a gap in funding, the program was scaled back this year, according to AERO program director Joddie Gray.

After the month of April, “everything ended up being put on hold at the end of the day, because we ran out of funding,” said Gray said.

The AERO program costs about $996,000 to run, and qualified for a $464,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The grant agreement is dated Jan. 1, 2018, but did not come to the Atlanta City Council for approval until this month.

The measure before the city council also calls for approval of paying for the airport’s share of about $536,000 for the program.

The city council transportation committee voted for the measure Wednesday, and it next goes to the full council for approval.

"There are currently a limited number of parking lots for employees and employees are also assigned spaces in the parking decks, reducing opportunity for paying customers and reducing revenues," according to city documents. Starting this year, there is "a reduction in available parking options at the Airport due to construction."

“AERO will be a vital partner in creating and encouraging commuting alternatives,” the city documents say.

Gray said once the funding is approved, AERO would reopen its booth in the Hartsfield-Jackson domestic terminal four days a week.

“We’ve been getting a lot of queries” from employees, Gray said. “We’re ready to go.”