Response to recent conversation

Atlanta Forward readers responded to this week’s columns about wait times on MARTA. Here are some select comments, under the writers’ chosen screen names:

Sawb: MARTA needs a major customer service makeover, and then it needs to seek ways to get people to experience the improvements. First, employee training efforts from top to bottom with one major theme — riders are not a nuisance to be tolerated. Second, consider something like a "Free-Fare Weekend" possibly coordinated with various events throughout the city encouraging people to try the improved service.

Eric: One thing's for sure: Further fare increases will send more riders elsewhere if wait times aren't reduced. If you're trying to get more people to take transit, you don't go up on the price: Econ 101.

Mangler: The whole point of the farthest-flung MARTA stations was to grab commuters off the highways who would rather ride a predictable train into town instead of a bad-to-worse ITP trip. If you have only one (train) every 15 minutes, you're not going to make a lot of commuters want to trade the wait on the highway for the wait on the platform. Offering frequent trains at rush hour is what will grab those drivers. What about shortening some of the trains but having them run more often? I see so many six- to eight-car trains with maybe 50 people on the whole thing. What if that was a two-car train, then in 6 to 10 minutes, another two-car train? Would that lead to efficiency and increase incentive to jump on? It doesn't necessarily have to save all that much time over driving to grab stressed-out commuters who don't have jobs requiring them to have their cars with them all day, but waiting on the platform for 15 to 20 minutes does sting.

Don: Let's see, in order to increase frequency, you have to budget more train crews. In order to budget more train crews, you need more money. Outside of the fact that increased frequency will induce more fare-paying riders. How about zoned fares? How about higher peak-hour fares? A ride from Doraville or North Springs to the airport has a heck of a lot more value than a Five Points-to-Arts Center (and Atlantic Station) shopping trip.

Bernie: Fortunately for conventioneers, when they are here, the entire system runs much smoother. Wait times are not as bad. When huge crowds are not expected, it seems as though it goes in slow motion. The wait time increases exponentially for the everyday rider. Even the rats — the four legged ones — remain out of sight during convention times at the Five Points station.

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