Atlanta Transit: Good or Bad?

New transit website to streamline trip planning

Cross-town commuters no longer have to shuffle between different transit system maps or websites to plan their trips.

A single website being launched today will provide information on routes, fares and itineraries for all four of metro Atlanta’s public transportation providers: MARTA, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Xpress buses, Cobb Community Transit and Gwinnett County Transit.

The website, six months in the making, was developed at no cost by the transit agencies and the Atlanta Regional Commission using existing staff and free, open-source online mapping software, said Kirk Fjelstul, executive director of GRTA.

The website lets would-be passengers plan a trip and purchase a fare pass. It also informs users about how to transfer between systems and compiles step-by-step itineraries for different times of day or days of the week.

Navigating between the four systems can be a hassle — especially for tourists and new riders — because their routes and schedules aren’t integrated. Before became available, planning a trip from one county to another involved visiting multiple websites.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighted the problem in October, after a reporter traveled from Duluth to Marietta using only public transportation. Traveling between the two northern suburban cities required the use of three different transit providers (two buses and a train) and took a grinding 2.5 hours.

David Tucker, deputy director of the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation, said making each system easier to navigate benefits them all.

“We hope it might have the opportunity for some new riders, maybe people that don’t ride now,” Tucker said.

The genesis of the idea for the website was a state Senate resolution that failed to pass the House this year. There was no funding identified for the project, but the resolution recommended that the separate transit providers develop a unified transit website by July 1.

Transit agency leaders nevertheless hopped on board with the idea and finished in time to meet the suggested deadline.

“We decided it was a great idea to try to move forward, so we began developing the website on our own,” said Kirk Fjelstul, executive director of GRTA.

Visitors to the website are encouraged to participate in a survey to let its creators know how to improve the site’s usefulness going forward.

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