Cars, trucks rule in low-density area

There is no question about it: Metro Atlantans love their cars, trucks and SUVs. These vehicles are more than just a way of life; they are also the best and most user-friendly way to travel throughout this sprawled-out area that dominates North Georgia.

Public transit has its merits, but it is not as simple as just build it and people will use it, especially in Atlanta. Transit here has seen its share of problems during recent years, including the discontinuation of services and declining ridership on MARTA. People notice these problems, such as long waits for trains and buses, and may not pay to use transit systems if they are not conducive to their lifestyles.

While an improved and self-sustained public transit system could help mitigate some of our traffic dilemma, it still cannot take the place of automotive transportation for the majority of metro Atlanta’s commuters. This area is just too spread out for that to happen — unlike New York City or Chicago, where many businesses are centralized and can be reached easily by large mass transit systems. We don’t have the population density. The region now considered metro Atlanta spreads over an area of 8,480 square miles, roughly the size of Massachusetts.

A local media account executive recently offered these comments about automotive travel here: “Without the automobile, I could not do my job. While I do have an office, much of my job involves meeting with existing and potential clients throughout the greater Atlanta market. That can and does range from Conyers to Douglasville, Peachtree City to Alpharetta, Griffin to Kennesaw, and the vast many locations in between. None of which could be accomplished without my vehicle. For me, the automobile is essential to my livelihood and well-being.”

There’s no doubt that automotive travel would be easier if there were better roads and highways. Just think what a big difference it would make if someone could find a way to relieve the choke points on our interstates. Day after day, these same troubled areas continue to bring traffic to a standstill.

Just how important are our automobiles during everyday life?

Our vehicles gives us freedom of mobility to go to and from work, to go on vacation, to take our younger children safely to school, and to respond to emergencies in life-and-death situations. And just think how much we appreciate the comfort that they give us during rainy days, hot summers or cold winters.

To that end, there are more than 200 franchised new car and truck dealers in the metro Atlanta area.

Dave Tribble is director of communications for the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association.