It’s not that we don’t love you…
I started blogging about transportation over a year ago on a whim and the encouragement of some friends after I started commuting last fall across a couple of different transit systems and had some incredibly heinous trips. Transit Misadventures began in October of 2009 as the project of someone who had never ridden a city bus and who knew practically nothing about public transportation. I’m pretty sure that only three people even knew I had started a blog. But I had some good stories and thought it might be fun. Truth be told, I had also made some new friends who work in transit, one of whom I had a big crush on, and also thought it might be a way to impress them.
My life as a blogger started out telling stories, mainly the crazy stuff I did missing buses, getting on the wrong train, not knowing that CCT doesn’t run on Sundays, and other basic clueless country girl in the city moves. Two encouraged me to add a counter to the blog, and I figured I’d be happy if I got a couple of hits. Surprisingly, it was ten hits or more a day. And ten hits grew to twenty, sometimes fifty hits. Along the way I learned what I was doing, started paying attention to politics and transit advocacy, and met That’s MARTA, a fellow MARTA blogger. Somewhere in there MARTA folks found me and I started to forge a relationship with them, mainly by amusing them with stupid stunts. In May of this year, That’s MARTA and I decided to combine blogging forces and purchased the domain name www.martarocks.com, and here we are today.
Fifty hits a day became a hundred and we signed up to be a part of the streetsblog.net group of nationwide transit bloggers. A hundred hits became more than three hundred a day as we began to be featured with posts on the Beltline vs. The Streetcar, calling out MARTA on their lack of GTFS feed, and protests to boycott Dillards. I never would have dreamed that people would have paid attention to our little transit blog, but I attribute it to the lack of and need for some sort of transit orientated news and advocacy in the metro region. That or three twenty something girls whose transit for dummies posts are littered with snarky etiquette commentary, curses, and general randomness is so unique we’ve cornered a niche market. But here we are, the girls of MARTA Rocks. And I make no apologies for that.
Our blog is often crass, opinionated, and sometimes negative. We tend to be a little soft hearted towards MARTA, but we also point out when they screw up. In fact, the folks at MARTA thought our choice of “MARTA Rocks!” as the new direction for the combined blogs might be construed as shilling for them, but trust me, we get frustrated and just as snarky with them as with anything else we write about. But they are our namesake, no doubt about it.
Make no doubt about it, though, this is a blog. We are not journalists and we don’t pretend to be the unbiased source of news that you might expect from journalists. We are bloggers who love transit and advocate as such. We are opinionated. If you knew us in person, you might even have more choice words for us. Sometimes we say things we shouldn’t. Sometimes I don’t know things I hear about aren’t common knowledge and I let the cat out of the bag, so to speak. Often times we take stances on issues that aren’t popular or maybe not even justified. We don’t know everything, despite what we’d like to think. Sometimes a journalist finds out about something through us and starts digging around more and creates a little stir (yes, Bread Dude, I’m looking at you). That’s what he’s there for, to investigate and be a little more fair to all parties.
I, however, am a transit blogger and advocate. I intend to stir up controversy and create debate. I get a kick out of hearing about how the people we direct our commentary towards take notice and get riled up. That way they know that we’re out here, that transit riders are keeping an eye out and that we demand to be made note of, so when people like Judy Bowles say that she doesn’t “know all the people lining up to get on [MARTA],” I can raise my hand and say,”ME! And all our thousands of readers!”
Controversy is good, it means people still care, one way or the other. So the Georgia Transit Association may have transit in the metro region as a priority and have made the reduction of MARTA restrictions as one of their goals for 2011, that’s great. I’m happy to hear it and thank them for their efforts. I still find it hard to believe that there is no Atlanta metro region representation on the board and I’m concerned. But now they know that at least one person is keeping an eye out, and hopefully they’ll remember that as they make decisions. And if they want a twenty something, opinionated transit advocate to attend meetings, help plan Transit Lobby Day, and push their general pro-transit agenda, I know where they can find one.