The shuttle of debate
MARTA recently released some service modifications slated to start soon including some increased frequency and extended routes as well as restoring the Braves shuttle for the 2011 season. You can read more about these service changes on their website, as well as the public hearings.
This news is kinda big. So big that it made the AJC.
They’re restoring my favorite route for rush hour service, the number Two down Ponce from North Avenue station to Decatur. The increased bus service makes me happy, but I question reinstating the Braves shuttle. Update: after the Bus Nerd explained the service modifications to me, I am less impressed. I think it’ll be more confusing than helpful to most people. Especially the Two.
The City is the instigator for bringing back the shuttle service, and I can see the argument for it. People going to the games are a boost to the economy and we should make it easy for them. Transit is best when it is convenient. The shuttle encourages folks who don’t normal use MARTA to ride, maybe one day converting them to regular patrons. And of course, it helps mitigate game day traffic.
But is it necessary? Or fair? More often than not, the folks riding the shuttle are folks from the suburbs. They’re not usual riders and they don’t pay sales tax into them system (unless they come into the service area to shop). But the most important point against the shuttle is that it’s not a lifeline or essential service. Ballgames are for the occasional recreational fun thing; it’s not about jobs or medical appointments or school. And following the severe service cuts we had last year that slashed essential service, are we being equitable when we bring back a service that serves people affluent enough to go to sporting events as opposed to those who need public transportation to go to work? It’s a hard sale.
If the city’s pushing for the shuttle, I think the city should pitch in to the costs (a baseball pun! hardy har har). Then we don’t have to worry about the people who need better transit because there would be more resources to go around. Are you tired of me constantly talking about funding yet?