Don’t Pimp My Ride. Trick Out My Trip!

Lyle V. Harris, Chief Spokesperson, MARTA

By Lyle V. Harris, Chief Spokesperson, MARTA

Crowdfunding Transit Challenge Set for Oct. 6

 Ever wanted help make MARTA an even better transit system, one bus stop or rail station at a time? Well, now’s your chance.

Last week, the crowdfunding platform IOBY (a cleverly subversive acronym that stands for “in OUR backyards”), and the non-profit Transit Center based in New York, launched a  program called “Trick Out My Trip” that’s providing up to $4,000 in matching funds for community-sponsored projects that will make taking transit easier, safer and more enjoyable.

To get a good idea of what TOMT is all about, check out this fun and funny video that’s posted on IOBY’s website.

The goal of TOMT is to co-sponsor ten, transit-centric projects in cities and towns across the country to demonstrate how smaller, grass-roots efforts can begin to fundamentally change the way people use and perceive public transportation.

“For the most part, investment in transit comes in billions of dollars,” Erin Barnes, executive director of IOBY recently told the Next City blog. “Our focus has always been on small projects. We want to see solutions led by riders and people who actually use the services, rather than municipalities.”

IOBY and the Transit Center point to some of the work already done by transit-supporters around the world who, for example, have installed community gardens at rail  stations, built mini-libraries at bus stops and created art-inspired signage that infuse the often austere, soul-less transit experience with a much-needed human touch.

Although MARTA isn’t planning on putting Persian rugs or reading lamps at its bus stops as IOBY’s video humorously depicts, the transit agency supports our customers and local affinity groups who share our mission of transforming Atlanta’s hometown transit system for the future.

If you want to participate in TOMT, please let us know. But time is of the essence: The deadline for expressing interest in getting a project funded by TOMT is Oct. 6.

Anyone who wants to work with MARTA on a TOMT project can contact me, Lyle V. Harris, MARTA spokesman, or my colleague, Saba Long at

For more details about the TOMT program and how to apply, go here. If you need some inspiration and want to find out what other communities have done to enhance transit, check this out.

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MARTA Open For Business

Ferdinand Risco, Executive Director of MARTA’s Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity (DEO)

Ferdinand Risco, Executive Director of MARTA’s Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity (DEO)

MARTA’s Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity (DEO) is charged with the development, implementation, coordination, and monitoring of all equal opportunity, affirmative action, and civil rights programs required by Board policies and Federal regulations.

Our message is: MARTA is open for business.

Under the leadership of MARTA General Manager Keith T. Parker, the agency has renewed its focus to partner with the private and public sectors.

From transit-oriented development events such as the annual “Development Day” to partnering with the many external stakeholders to attract and educate disadvantaged business owners on how to do business with the agency, we are committed to working with the private sector to make MARTA even better.

Our transit-oriented development is being guided by MARTA’s Board-adopted guidelines.  Our strategic goals included: generating greater transit ridership through clustering mixed-use development around the stations and along corridors; promoting a sustainable, affordable, and growing future for the people of Metro Atlanta; and generating a return on MARTA’s transit investment through enhanced passenger revenues, greater federal support, and development on MARTA property.

We will continue to prove to our partners, both public and private, that we are an asset to the region, creating jobs and new economic opportunity. We are here to continue a dialogue with you, expand our business relationship with you and ultimately contribute to the economic success and quality of life in this region with you.


The Office of Contracts & Procurement and Material (CPM) is responsible for the central procurement function for MARTA, and responsible for administering the purchasing and contracting of goods and services on behalf of all MARTA departments.

Most goods and services that MARTA procures are obtained through a competitive quote or bid process. MARTA strives to solicit competition from as many interested parties as possible.

Current and anticipated vendor opportunities include towing services, facility renovation, escalator and elevator modernization, removal of scrap metals and landscaping.

The agency uses a variety of solicitation methods, including requests for quotations, sealed bids, requests for proposals, GSA/state procurements and emergency procurements.

Register your business online using the MARTA iSupplier Portal Procurement System. All bids, proposals and quotes are available for download from the MARTA website.

MARTA relies on its vendor database as a primary supplier list. Additional recommendations come from internal requesters, market research including the Internet and industry publications, references from other transit properties and DEO recommendations.

Bid packages include instructions for submittal, terms and conditions of the contract, scope of work or technical requirements, forms for bidding and submitting and finally, the DBE goal. All procurement material complies with federal guidelines, best practices according to the American Public Transportation Association, the MARTA Act and staff guidelines.

As is customary in bidding on publicly funded projects, MARTA is required to start with the lowest bid. Responsiveness is determined by MARTA’s Legal Department and bid submittals must meet all material terms and conditions without exceptions. Other evaluation factors include, but are not limited to, quality and responsiveness of the proposal, vendor approach, organization, personnel and facilities.

For more information about doing business with MARTA, including current vendor opportunities, visit the MARTA website.

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Mass Transit Innovations in Atlanta and U.S. Cities

By Carly Queen

By Carly Queen, Georgia Tech graduate student studying civil engineering

I write from my hotel room in Colombia’s second largest city, Medellin. Situated in the Aburra Valley of the Andes Mountains, this city of more than 2 million was known in much of the 1980s and early 1990s, as the most violent city in the world, due to high crime and murder rates that were largely caused by drug cartels. So what brings me here, and what does this have to do with transit in Atlanta? The simplest answer that I can give, though it will confuse and bewilder many of you, is – gondolas.

Gondolas are a type of cable-propelled transit (CPT), typically with enclosed cabins that will detach from the cable that pulls them, to slow down for onboarding and alighting purposes as they pass through a station. You may have seen these on ski resorts or amusement parks, but cities around the globe are increasingly using gondolas as part of their mass transit system. In 2004, Medellin became the first city to fully integrate gondolas into its mass transit system, effectively connecting residents of the poorest, most dangerous neighborhoods at the higher elevations of the urban fringe to social and economic opportunities in the urban core. The city  also has a tourist-oriented MetroCable line that runs to Park Arvi, an eco-park that is otherwise only accessible by an hours long bus ride through curvy mountain roads. Other places with urban gondola systems include London, Caracas, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Germany and Algeria.

In the United States, urban CPT can be found in the form of higher capacity, more costly, and faster aerial trams in Portland, Ore., New York City, and even at Stone Mountain in Georgia (although that is more of a suburban setting). However, none of the lower cost mono-cable detachable gondola (MDG) systems have been used in U.S. cities yet. Designers in Austin, Texas have proposed an extensive gondola system, rather than adding streetcars that compete with automobiles for space on roads. Private investors in Seattle, Wash., have proposed a gondola line to serve the city’s waterfront, without any public funding needed. Proponents of implementing this technology in urban environments cite several enticing factors, including the low cost, quick build time (less than two years), small footprint, minimal noise, consistent speeds (10-12 mph), and short wait times (less than one minute on average), impressive safety record, high reliability, and stunning views as some of the reasons why this technology should be considered among other, more conventional modes when looking to expand a city’s mass transit system. Low-cost MDG systems can accommodate up to 3,000 people per hour per direction, which would take about 50 buses per hour per direction.

So why is it that more than a dozen cities around the world, many in developing countries, have built gondola systems, while U.S. cities hesitate to implement this technology? Perhaps the answer to this question is more obvious. Insurance and liability concerns continue to cripple local and state governments from innovating in the area of transportation, as in many other areas of their operations. Of course, I don’t think that taxpayer money should be spent recklessly, or gambled away on high-risk ventures, but gondolas seem to be neither risky nor reckless. In fact, they seem to be one of the best investments possible with modern technology to serve medium-demand transportation corridors, based on many factors including the good return on investment and willingness of private investors to pay for such systems. This is why, though my specific plan is still being developed, I have proposed the idea of building gondola lines to expand our mass transit system in Atlanta, which I have been calling the Atlanta Skyway project. With our limited funding, high congestion, and physical barriers (railroads, highways, rivers, hilly terrain, etc.), gondolas seem like a potentially ideal fit for serving many of Atlanta’s urban areas. Although I would like to see Atlanta take the lead on something other than traffic congestion, toxicity, inequality, and sprawl, I don’t expect that we will be the first city in the U.S. to integrate urban gondolas into our mass transit system. I am actually hoping that the proposals in Austin or Seattle get off the ground, to clear the path for Atlanta and other U.S. cities to follow suit.

Coming back to Medellin for a moment, I want to share what I have seen here as I pack up to fly back to Atlanta this evening. While visiting this city, which was named the “Most Innovative City in the World” in 2013 by the Urban Land Institute, Citi Bank, and the Wall Street Journal, and just finished hosting the U.N. Habitat World Urban Forum (another reason why I came here), I have been struck by the transformation that has taken place. The barrios that were once so dangerous that even police wouldn’t go there are now accessible even to gringos and tourists, in large part because they are now served by the MetroCable, which also brought clean water and reliable electricity to the area. My visit to Santo Domingo, the highest stop on MetroCable Line K, revealed groups of schoolchildren playing, artists painting murals, street vendors selling fruits and handmade goods, and young people listening to music and generally enjoying the atmosphere around the station. What a difference social innovation and transit expansion can make in just a decade or two!

Atlanta is certainly not Medellin – the culture, topography, climate, history, social structure, and transportation system are vastly different. However, Atlanta could learn a lot from Medellin and other cities around the world that have chosen to embrace innovation.

As I see it, the effectiveness and appeal of our transportation system (not only transit) can only go up by expanding and enhancing our transit system. Given limited funding, we need to get creative with more affordable modes and greater investment from the private sector; but this will require open-minded, visionary leadership. Gondolas could be one part of the solution, but without a willingness to innovate, we won’t know until it is too late.

If Medellin, a city once fraught with violence and inaccessibility, is now a thriving city making waves of progress in many avenues, brought about largely by innovative investments in transportation. This has assisted low-income communities in rebuilding, and provided unimaginable growth to the region. Imagine the difference MARTA could make on the Atlanta urban landscape if they were willing to think outside the box.

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By Eddie Curtis, Georgia Tech Student

Riding transit provides benefits on an individual, community, regional and social level that if share widely might provide a compelling reason for more people to try transit.  One great service that MARTA could provide is marketing itself through a mixture of positive messages associated with riding transit and providing a forum for people within the Atlanta Metropolitan Area to express SMARTA things they are able to accomplish by riding MARTA.  The professional marketing messages and videos could be packaged into short commercials describing the benefits of transit.  The forum would allow people to submit 30-45 second videos of themselves describing why riding MARTA is SMARTA.  The videos would be broadcast as marketing pieces in MARTA stations, and on rail and busses that are appropriately equipped.  MARTA could also tweet copies of the videos on a daily/weekly basis and share the packaged marketing videos for broadcast in the airport, universities, colleges, hotels, businesses and tourist venues.  A free monthly pass could be provided weekly for the most original video that focuses one or more categories.

The categories might include:

  1. Things you can do on MARTA that make you SMARTA than people driving alone in their cars.
  • Reading
  • Meeting new people
  • Getting work or homework done.
  1. Sitting on MARTA is SMARTA than sitting on congested streets and freeways.
  • Describe how space on freeways is conserved when 40 people sit on a bus instead of 40 people sitting in cars alone.
  • Describe the air quality benefits associated with riding a bus or rail instead of driving.
  • The health benefits associated with walking and riding MARTA.
  1. Riding on MARTA is SMATA because it saves money
  • Describe the cost associated with driving from home to work in a car versus riding MARTA.

o   Car Maintenance, fuel, parking

  • Describe employer transit benefit programs.

o   Pre-Tax benefits available for purchase of transit passes

  • Select employers also provide free transit passes
  • Parking buyout programs
  1. MARTA uses SMARTA technology
    • Provide interesting stories about how people are using the MARTA app to use time more effectively as an outcome of knowing when trains and busses are arriving in real time.
    • Provide information about alternative clean air vehicles.

Provide information about studies that MARTA does to improve its service and expansion plans.

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Let’s Get Heavy Rail Up GA400 Corridor Moving

By Phil Downing

I support heavy rail up the GA400 corridor to at least Windward Parkway.  I live in Alpharetta and must commute every day to my office in a building literally across the street from the Sandy Springs MARTA station.  I would definitely use MARTA for my every day commute as well as my frequent trips to the airport.

Extension of MARTA heavy rail north of North Springs is long overdue.  I’m disappointed that the process is taking so long.  I can only hope that somehow we can accelerate the analysis and community input process – as well as the lengthy environmental studies – to get this project moving.

One would think this is a win for many interest groups:

  • Environmentalists would see reduced emissions and pollution from all the cars on GA400
  • Commuters would have options to reduce their drive and get to locations in Atlanta quicker without having to sit in traffic – not to mention reduced gas use, fewer accidents, lower insurance rates, lower stress, more productive time, etc.
  • Employers would gain improved productivity, fewer problems with missed time due to traffic issues
  • Traffic through mid-town would be cut by removing some of the cars from the road ( or at least reducing the rate of growth of the number of cars), positively impacting other citizens in the community
  • The surrounding GA400 corridor communities can further promote quality of life and the positive impact reduced traffic will have on secondary roads
  • It will be easier to get convention attendees from the airport to North Fulton locations driving utilization of convention facilities and local hotels which in turn drives greater economic growth and higher tax receipts for Roswell, Alpharetta, and Johns Creek.
  • Higher tax receipts takes the pressure off having to increase millage rates and that benefits all the homeowners in the area

Atlanta is no longer a sleepy, southern town.  It is a modern, international city with millions of citizens and it should have the transportation infrastructure commensurate with a global city of our size.

I can only encourage MARTA to please do everything you can to accelerate the process and move this forward as quickly as possible.  At some point in time – and I believe we have surpassed that time by years – we need to move past analysis and take action.  Time to get this project started!

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Why MARTA Needs A Mascot

By Cary Bearn, Graduate Student at the Georgia Institute of Technology

By Cary Bearn, Graduate Student at the Georgia Institute of Technology

MARTA has always had its fans and its naysayers…and it always will.  In this way MARTA is like any major sports team.  People get behind MARTA for many a personal reason: some people don’t have access to a car, others don’t care for their car, still others prefer the excitement of the service, and there are even those that ride a particular route at a particular time of day just to see that cute driver they met last week.  However, as of yet, there are no folks who are MARTA fans because of the MARTA mascot.  I propose here that in order to truly expand MARTA fandom, MARTA needs a mascot.

As a self-proclaimed bandwagon fan, I can attest to the fact that a mascot can make all the difference in who I root for.  The best mascots are not the ferocious lions and tigers and bears, oh my, no.  Instead, the best mascots are the banana slugs, the beavers, and the purple cows. An awesome MARTA mascot could sway a child, perhaps one predisposed to root for the Cobb County Braves, to instead root for MARTA.  And, we all know MARTA needs its fans.

MARTA has the opportunity to further enthuse the Atlanta region by crowdsourcing this silliness.  Getting folks involved in designing a mascot and simultaneously gets people involved in MARTA.  A successful mascot does not need to make physical appearances too often, and sparing appearances may be all the more exciting.  Instead the MARTA mascot might serve as a graphic campaign.  Perhaps pasting graphics of the mascot doing different silly things throughout the vehicles, stations, and stops.  Perhaps even along the right of way.  Think “mice on main” in Greenville.

Regardless of the aesthetics, the mascots are often the center of much media attention.  Awkwardly oversized creatures have recently been representing events such as the Olympics and FIFA Cup.  I remember a bizarre bumbling bear balloon in Sochi and Brazil has been toting around some sort of futbol creature.  But it is high time that the mascot extend beyond the world of schools and sports and into the realm of transit.  Transit has long needed a mascot and MARTA, given the frustration so many users and non-users feel with the service, is the perfect institution to usher in such a being.  Bring on the silliness.

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DC Circulator Could Be A Model For MARTA

thomash amed

Thomas Hamed, Georgia Tech Student

When I lived in Washington DC, I was rather impressed with the DC Circulator. These circulator buses served far fewer routes than the region’s main transit system, and yet had many features that made them stand out from other buses. Circulator buses had low floors, ample seating, and came far more frequently than the DC Metrobuses did on the same route. These circulators have existed for only ten years, and yet are a vital part of DC’s transit strategy.

Circulators may work in certain neighborhoods in Atlanta as well. The relatively short headways and small number of routes mean that choice riders, such as tourists, may be more attracted to them. Best of all, the frequent infusion of people that circulators bring means that land uses can support more density. For instance, certain blocks may see more retail once more potential customers show up.

Circulators are easy to get rid of if they do not work. Each line may only take a few buses to keep headways low, potentially costing only a few hundred thousand dollars in capital expenses. This is a far lower cost than the millions of dollars required to implement a fixed guide way system, such as light rail. Additional terminal infrastructure could be provided, but I would suspect MARTA could make use of existing garages to service these vehicles and their crew. Ideally, these circulator buses can be retrofitted to regular MARTA buses easily if the demand does not materialize.

There are a few areas where MARTA could implement circulators. Midtown could definitely support such a system, where the bus route would form a roughly rectangular shape, using Midtown Station as a waypoint. Areas in and around Downtown Decatur could also benefit from a system, especially if they sought to spur development in certain neighborhoods. Even downtown Atlanta could field another circulator, though the route would have to complement the Atlanta streetcar more than compete with it. Whatever the

MARTA may have to commit for several years before it sees results. After all, inducing demand and making place does take time. But with right branding and with cooperation from the neighborhoods, these new bus routes could help to spur density, and make the neighborhoods served a place to be at all hours of the day.

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MARTA Bus still unfamiliar


By Mary Thumati, Georgia Tech Student

A college student studying out of state without a car, a friend of mine, would be easily considered transit dependent. Because she is living on campus in Midtown, most places to which she needs to travel are within walking distance. On occasion she’ll ride MARTA rail or carpool with someone. I asked her why she never took the bus. Being interested in transportation, I was curious as to why someone made the mode choices she did. Her worries had nothing to do with fears that I had often heard: how long it would take, the comfort level of a bus, or if its route served her needs.  Her answer was simple. It’s unfamiliar.

I thought back to my own experience. I could pretty much consider myself from Atlanta. I had been living here since 1994, over 80% of my short life, yet I too was inexperienced with Atlanta buses. Growing up, “MARTA” had always meant the rail line. Getting on at Doraville and riding into the city for a Braves game or all the way to the airport to see off friends were fond childhood memories. When I moved into the city for school I remember going the opposite direction, learning the hard way that it mattered if you choose the red or gold line. As much as I loved rail, I never rode the bus. I didn’t have a particular aversion to buses; I just didn’t think to use them.

In the last few months I have been remembering to include buses as an option. I didn’t realize the extent of MARTA’s bus network until I started searching. I study transportation for a living, but am completely in the dark about Atlanta’s bus system. One day I was giving my friend a ride and was thinking if having her ride the bus would have made sense. I passed over 20 bus stops on the ride. I had driven that route a thousand times, but had never noticed the stops until I was looking for them. The lack of familiarity wasn’t due to an absence of availability, but a want of visibility. If the bus stops were more eye-catching or had real-time information, they would feel more vibrant and like an actual option.

Having discovered a newfound interest in the bus side of transit, I started exploring MARTA’s bus maps. When you glance over the full routes, there is an extensive coverage area. However, there is not a map with the bus stops, or maybe I just couldn’t find one. I used the commute trip planner online and realized that my trip would take about 75 minutes, a trip I could make with my car in just 15 minutes, a fraction of the time. Then I tried a different bus stop, which was still convenient to my starting location. My trip time dwindled down to 30 minutes. I keep iterating through different routes by slightly changing my starting points and ending points figuring that I could walk/bike to make up the difference. The bus actually was convenient but didn’t seem so because of the original shock of a 75 minute trip for a relatively short distance. To decrease the time all it took was changing the starting bus stops, but I had to do that one by one and by guessing. That process in itself took 45 minutes. If there had been a range of possible starting stops or a map of all the bus stops, that planning step could be improved.

MARTA bus is a service that exists and actually has several routes that serve the denser portion of Atlanta with several stops that gives the rider great flexibility in where they can go. It’s unfortunate that it’s nearly invisible to non-users and that the learning/planning curve for first time users is so large. With improved bus stops and bus stop information MARTA bus can be as integral MARTA rail is to Atlanta.

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Public Transit a Reality Again for Clayton

By Representative Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro)

By Representative Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro)

Public office, while not for the faint of heart, provides cinematic moments like the one I experienced Saturday, July 5, while attending a specially called Clayton County Commission meeting to put a penny sales tax to join MARTA in front of Clayton voters.

After tense discussions and compelling statements from Clayton residents, many of them former C-TRAN riders, the Commission ultimately embraced the spirit of democracy. In doing so, they demonstrated courage and leadership and chose to go beyond politics by letting the voters decide on bringing transit back to our county. It is now up to the public to make their voices heard by asking the right questions and being engaged in the next steps of bringing transit to Clayton County.

If passed, the system this tax would support will help build out remarkable economic

development opportunities that could lie ahead for Clayton County. In no short order, we

have: the National Museum of Commercial Aviation, the Aerotropolis, Kroger’s

reinvestment in Fort Gillem, Clayton State University, Southlake Mall Redevelopment, and the much anticipated Redevelopment of Gillem. The Aerotropolis project alone is estimated to bring more than 50,000 jobs to Clayton County.

As the former Chairman of the Clayton County legislative delegation to the Georgia

General Assembly, and member of the House of Representatives committees on

Transportation and Ways and Means, I’ve twice witnessed the Georgia General

Assembly give my county the chance to empower its citizens with public transportation– first in 2010 and most recently in 2014 with the passage of HB 1009.  The bipartisan effort allowed Clayton County to place a transit referendum on the ballot this November to allow Clayton County residents to decide whether to fund public transportation.

As the chief sponsor of HB 1009, it is my intention to give Clayton a better future, despite my past reservations regarding public transit in Clayton County. In recent years, as I looked across our county, and the greater region as a whole, I began to evolve and change in my previous mindset, understanding the many benefits of better connecting our county both internally and with the rest of region.

Claytonians have an amazing opportunity to write for themselves how the story

ends. Notwithstanding some contractual details that need to be addressed and properly

vetted, we must embrace this rare opportunity. Restoring public transportation in

Clayton County is a necessity if we are to be competitive in the global economy and in the Atlanta metropolitan region. We can ill afford to be labeled as “the county south of Atlanta” or the “bridge to Henry County.” We must establish our community as a viable and reputable destination for business, tourism, quality of life, and economic empowerment. As Clayton residents, we are at a crossroads. We can no longer rest on the laurels of our recent victories. We can no longer boast about past accomplishments. Rather, we must unite and further the cause of bringing robust transit options to our county.

Doing so will encourage the Federal Transit Authority to re-obligate $45 million for the Atlanta-Lovejoy commuter rail line. Controlled by the Georgia Department of Transportation, the pool of money the federal government allocated to commuter rail was, most recently, for the proposed Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal in downtown Atlanta. Now that we have made a clear choice to make transit alternatives a priority for Clayton, we remain optimistic Washington will acknowledge our efforts. Clayton has a tremendous opportunity to serve as a transportation trailblazer by making commuter rail, a long-awaited mode of transportation, available across Georgia.

Leading up to the Nov. 4 vote, the citizens of Clayton County will have the opportunity to attend public hearings and town hall meetings to learn more about this opportunity for bus and high capacity transit service throughout the county.

This is Clayton’s last chance to get it right.  The legislature is unlikely to grant us another opportunity to do this again.  We must work to educate the public as a community, through our clergy, civic groups, business organizations and elected officials.

I encourage everyone to work toward that goal over the next three months.

“Clayton Proud”

The Honorable Mike Glanton

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Fifty Shades of Grey

By Marcus Ashdown, Georgia Tech Student

By Marcus Ashdown, Georgia Tech Student

I love using MARTA rail, it gets me to Midtown with relative ease and is very reliable in meeting my schedule demands; however, on the occasion I have to spend more than a few minutes in a station waiting for the next train, those minutes would not be so memorable if I had more to look at that endless amounts of grey concrete. With the joy of an evening class added to my schedule this spring, my commute times have become irregular and have caused some considerable time spent in a grey MARTA station on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Because I use the red line to travel to Medical Center Station, I get to play Hop-Scotch at Lindbergh Station after getting on at Midtown. So not only do I endure three stations (all grey) in one trip, but also because it is late at night the headways are longer and my time at the stations can commonly enough reach the half hour point, I have a great desire to have more to look at than occasional faces surrounded by grey walls, grey floors, grey ceilings, grey stairs, etc.

The greatest contrast to all this grey would be landscaping. Living (or even fake) greenery brings instant life to even the greyest of places, MARTA stations included. I understand that this may be difficult in the underground inner-city stations (cue the fake plants) but many other stations receive plenty of sunlight and could brighten the upper waiting area as well as the platform with minimal upkeep and watering. Even a simple row of shrubbery (I remember seeing in a random station, I don’t frequent) going along the wall of the station 10-15 feet off the ground would break the grey impact in half and make a significant difference.

Less interesting but also significant would be changing the grey rock to another rock of just a different color. The North Avenue Station has white tiles on the walls of the platform and feels so much more inhabitable than Midtown stations only a few blocks north. Whether it be tile or colored concrete or some other rock of a different color, the simple addition of more than just different shades of one color would help the grey situation considerably.

If all else fails, paint. The relative ease and minimal skill required in adding paint to a wall is terrifying to some, but those some all have grey walls. Multi-colored murals grace the wall of some stations that I have stopped at on the way to the airport and oddly enough, I looked at them. Yet even if a mural or some form of art is too extensive and taxing of an ordeal, the bare necessity needs to be to paint over some of that grey and make these stations feel like they are an environment to experience and not a sarcophagus to be survived.

The impact on the experiences and perceptions of ‘waiting for the train to arrive’ at many a (currently) grey MARTA station would be significant to everyone from one-time riders to every-day commuters with the introduction of a little color into the scene. How comfortable we feel in our surroundings determines how determined we are to continually experience those surroundings, and very few people feel comfortable in a grey concrete box.

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