They forgot about the buses...

When the state of Georgia thought about how to ease congestion on Georgia 400, they did what most people would think of: just make the highway wider. As we all know, they converted the southbound, right shoulder lane from a lane that only buses could use (or regular cars in an emergency) to a lane that all cars can use between the hours of 6:30am and 10am Monday through Friday.

Has this alleviated the traffic problem? Has it even made it any better? Not by much...

And, what was the one thing that everyone forgot about? The buses... or more accurately, the bus schedules.

Before the change in lane use, the bus schedule gave 15 minutes for the 140 bus to get from Mansell Park-and-Ride to the North Springs Train Station. Assuming the bus would make the trip in 15 minutes, there is a 3 minute cushion between the bus arrival and the train departure. In a perfect world (i.e. Not Atlanta on a Monday morning), that gives you plenty of time to make the connection from bus-to-train.

However, now there is no dedicated bus lane on 400. The 140 bus has to drive (or, more accurately, idle) with all the other private and commercial traffic on the highway. That means the ride from Mansell to North Springs, on a typical traffic day, now takes longer than 15 minutes. If there is an accident, the ride can take as long as 25 minutes. On average, the 140 Bus misses the train about 50% of the time. That is a HORRIBLE ratio for a city that claims to be a "major metropolitan area".

There are several options for the City to consider as solutions to this problem:

1. Modify the bus schedules to account for the additional traffic. Change the time allotted to get from Mansell-to-North Springs, for example from 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Additionally, coordinate the new arrival times to leave 5-7 minutes between arrival and departure to allow for delays on bad traffic days. I am sure there are several other bus routes that could use this examination, but the 140 is the one most familiar to the writer.

2. Increase the frequency of trains during peak rush hour. I know people will scoff at this, but I am not asking for a lot here. The trains run every 15 minutes during PEAK time. That is 4 trains per hour. The suggestion I have it so make that one train every 10 minutes, or 6 trains per hour. And only for the 4 hours from 6am to 10am and then in the afternoon from 3pm to 7pm. This would be 8 hours a day with 2 additional trains per hour. Which would mean 16 additional trains per day. Doesn't sound like a big commitment. I'll openly admit that I am not aware of the capacity left in the MARTA train system, but I do ride past the train yards and see MANY cars sitting idle...

Without any changes to the MARTA system, people are arriving late to work because of late buses, missed trains, and an infrequent train schedule. In an economy that is just starting to get it's legs back, people can't afford to arrive late and face the possibility of losing their job. In a metropolitan area that desperately needs an improved mass transit system, the State has made it even less convenient to take your car off the highway and take mass transit.