I-85 disaster forces Atlantan to use MARTA

The 16-mile journey to work is never pleasant.

MARTA, it's SMARTA ... or is it? (AJC file photo)

In the best of times, such as whenever school is out, the morning ride up I-285 to free doughnuts and coffee takes about 30 minutes.

Things have gotten worse since a section of I-85 burned down.

Now, I-285 is packed tighter than a United Airlines flight full of forcibly accommodated passengers.

Monday, the ride to work took 95 minutes. Tuesday was 90 minutes. My awesome math skills tell me I'm averaging about 10 miles per hour. I've mowed lawns faster.

A man has a lot of time to think when he's parked on a major interstate during rush hour traffic.

Should I telecommute?

"Working" at home sounds cool. I would probably get a smoking jacket and peck away at the keyboard enough to remain employed. But, if I didn't have to look my co-workers in the eye I might quit shaving and let other matters of hygiene slip to the point it required marriage counseling.

I could retire? That sounds relaxing but every retired person I know is working hard at finding work. And my mortgage company would miss the regular paychecks. In a few months I might be the one living under a bridge. As a former floor safety captain I promise to never set a couch on a plastic shopping cart and set it afire.

Flying cars, sadly, still haven't been invented. And I'm not sure I could afford the insurance.

What about public transportation?

Has Atlanta traffic finally gotten so bad MARTA is actually faster?

One of MARTA's flaws is that its rail lines largely parallel major interstates. Using a car is usually less of a hassle and faster. In many cities where public transportation is more beloved, rail lines cut across the grain of traffic instead of alongside it.

I live close to a MARTA rail station, but to get to work I have to drive to the station, find parking, walk a considerable distance to the train, wait for the train, take the east rail line downtown, wait for a northbound train and walk to my office.

All that takes over an hour if I am able to get on a train quickly. Sometimes it takes much longer. Once I took MARTA to a Georgia Tech football game. On the way back, the North Avenue station was closed for maintenance and a stadium full of people wished they all had cars.

Despite the advertising, I'm not sure anyone takes MARTA to save time. But there are other advantages.

  • There's less wear and tear on my car.
  • My Tyrannosaurus rex-sized carbon footprint is reduced to something less Cretaceous.
  • I get to meet more of Atlanta's charming denizens.
  • I have more time to stare at my phone.

Wednesday, I'm going to give MARTA a shot. Maybe all MARTA needs to be popular is more broken highways?

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