MARTA, other agencies cancel transit service for Irma

MARTA canceled all of its transit services Monday with Irma set to blow through north Georgia this afternoon.

Spokesman Erik Burton said it may be the first time MARTA has ever suspended both its bus and rail services for a day.

Other metro Atlanta transit agencies also will shut down completely or close early Monday. And decisions about Tuesday’s service likely will come later today.

“We are meeting frequently today to provide an answer about Tuesday's service,” Burton said.

In addition to MARTA, the state’s Xpress bus service will not operate Monday.

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CobbLinc will not operate express bus service and will suspend all local bus and paratransit services at noon.

Gwinnett County Transit will not operate express bus service Monday. Paratransit service will end at 1 p.m. After that time, the paratransit service will be limited to medical trips only.

Gwinnett’s local bus routes will end at various times. For details, visit the county’s web site.

Burton said wind gusts – not the threat of flooding – was the key factor in the decision to suspend service. He said buses and trains have specific wind thresholds beyond which they are not safe to operate, though he did not know the thresholds. Burton said the vehicles could be blown over, or – in the case of a bus – the wind could make it hard for a driver to maintain control of the vehicle.

Another factor: Burton said MARTA did not want to leave any passengers stranded. Some passengers who used transit to get to work in the morning might not be able to get home if MARTA was forced to cancel service during the day.

Burton noted that  Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have both warned about the dangers of Hurricane Irma.

“We have to ensure that safety remains the top priority,” he said.

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