Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The wheels on the train go round and round...

Trains have wheels, right?

Anyway, I rode MARTA for the first time today, the second day of my second semester back in school. You'd think after living in Atlanta for two years now that I would've had the opportunity ride public transportation before, but the closest I've gotten until today was picking someone up at the local station.

Though our church is downtown, it's easier to drive when Gaines has to bring his guitar and other stuff. Besides, there's no traffic on Sundays. Also, since Gaines works in downtown Atlanta now, this summer when I first started taking graduate classes at GSU, we just carpooled. It was nice, since his workplace wasn't far from campus.

This semester, though, all of my classes are in the evening-- since I'll start student teaching in October. It works out great for me, because a girl in my cohort lives nearby and we can ride the train together on Tuesday and Wednesdays. (It's nice to have someone to talk to on the ride down. Among other various and sundry topics, today we had a fun conversation about Baptists and legalism--she's Catholic and went to Mercer for undergrad.)

Anyway, on to MARTA. I think, in some cases, it IS "smarta." For one thing, it saves on parking, and it's also a lot faster during rush hour. Second, it's just as safe, or even moreso, especially since I'm not travelling alone. Third-- I was surprised at the relative cleanliness and ease of use. It wasn't hard to get around, signs were clearly marked, and it was much better kept than the underground in New York or even D.C. (I won't compare it to European Metros I've used, they're just so much older...) But perhaps this is due to the fact that no one uses it?

While waiting in line to get tokens yesterday, I asked another student why it doesn't go all over the city, like in other large urban areas I've been to. Thankfully, there are stations where we live, but for anyone on the west side of town up I-75-- zilch. He described the situation as an endless deteriorating cycle: Lack of funding. People complain that no one uses it, so funding goes down. Since funding goes down, less people use it. And more people complain... you get the idea.

I'll admit it wasn't crowded when I rode it today. I've also heard horror stories about the crazies on MARTA and the unexpected breakdowns. Thankfully, my ride was smooth and uneventful and panhandlers were avoided.

So, I just have to say I'm looking forward to my evenings on the train. I'm still driving down for my classes one day a week, though, just because my last class on Monday doesn't end until 9:45 and there's no way I'm riding MARTA by myself that late at night. Maybe next semester I can move up to MARTA full-time.

Thanks to Trevor for linking to this guy's blog. I kind of like this new-urbanism idea-- it's interesting to read a discussion about areas I've become so familiar with... It also has great pictures of Atlantic Station, which is being built practically in our church's backyard (West Merritts is located in Home Park, right near Georgia Tech). The influx of even more residents into Midtown should be an interesting opportunity for our little light-bearing congregation.

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