This was a different type of traffic jam, even for Atlanta. The morning after a portion of I-85 collapsed, many commuters were forced to find another way to get to work.
“We’re feeling the increase of people,” MARTA spokesman Erik Burton said. “We’ve got a lot of new people that are new to the system.”
In anticipation of a busy day, the transit increased service by running trains more frequently, Burton said. A mechanical issue at the West End station caused delays on the North-South line, but no major problems were reported, he said.
“From what I’m seeing, we’re running very efficiently and still very effectively,” Burton said.
Numbers on first-time riders weren’t immediately available Friday. But most trains had more passengers, including those who already rely on MARTA to get to work, and that meant slower commutes for some.
Daily MARTA rider Ashley Chupp said her commute from Five Points to Dunwoody — usually 25 minutes — took one hour and four minutes Friday.
“The worst delays were at Five Points,” said Chupp, who lives near the station. “This is definitely going to be interesting.”
Courtney Payne, who lives in Sandy Springs and works in the Old Fourth Ward, normally drives I-85 to work. That wasn’t an option Friday.
“I, like, just drive in my car, just me in my car singing, horribly, and now it’s me and my closest 500 neighbors,” she said, as she waited to depart the North Springs station.
Payne said she’ll take MARTA for a week and see how it goes. It’s not yet known how long it will take to rebuild the collapsed portion of the interstate, so riders like Payne are urged to be patient with Atlanta’s transit system.
“We just ask people to bear with us if there’s any type of hiccup,” Burton said.
— Staff writers Richard Halicks and Meris Lutz contributed to this report.