Prudence can make transit enhancements pay off
Re: “Atlanta Gambles on MARTA Expansion,” News, June 10, Atlanta’s gamble on transit expansion, if done right, can indeed pay off. MARTA is off to a good start with its emphasis on broadening coverage, improving frequency of service, and upgrading communication with riders, both centrally and at stops. As has been established elsewhere, these are the kinds of steps necessary to boost ridership: better aligning users’ needs with service provided. Especially at times with so much uncertainty about the futures of transportation choices and technologies, proceeding incrementally is the only prudent course. As it happens, too, this approach is cost-effective and allows for innovations, like installing sheltered bus stops with next-bus communication, sidewalks that connect them with riders, and testing out neighborhood circulators. The effects on ridership, always the key to transit feasibility, will inform what more-robust investments are needed, in what order, at what cost, and in interaction with changing technologies and travel behaviors.