Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
Guest blog: CfPT president Ashley Robbins
Citizens for Progressive Transit supports the Livable Communities Coalition’s Fair Share for Transit initiative. Fair Share for Transit seeks to ensure that transit is well-represented in the final project list prior to the summer 2012 referendum. Ashley Robbins, president of CfPT, contributes her education and outreach expertise to the initiative.
When I moved to Atlanta I had never really lived in a city that offered transit. I grew up on a small farm outside of a town that boasts a whopping population of 6,000. I like to joke that transit to us is a hayride, or piling into the back of a pick up truck. And then I moved to Atlanta.
Except I moved to Smyrna.
I knew there was a bus system in Cobb County, and I knew there was a train in the city.
It couldn’t be that hard, could it? So as I tried to adopt this city-life mentality and an environmentalist approach to my life, I decided to go car light a couple of years ago.
To put this decision into perspective, I lived off of Cobb Parkway, worked nights as a shelter manager in the Stone Mountain area, and worked days at a firm in Marietta. In regards to transit, this meant a commute of epic proportions.
I started my mornings at 7:00, walking three blocks to the nearest bus stop to catch the MARTA 121 at the end of the line to Kensington Station. From Kensington I took the train to Five Points, where I switched to the North line and rode to Arts Center, where my commute got tricky.
If I was having the good morning and a perfect commute, I could hop on the CCT express bus which took me straight to my office just in time for a nine o’clock start to my day. But the last express bus leaves Arts Center at 8:05, so if I ran late, or if MARTA did, I missed that bus and had to take the CCT 10 to the 50 and then hoof it the rest of the way.
A good day was a commute that took me an hour and a half. I loved those commutes; I could read or nap, drink my coffee and have a great start to my day. A bad day resulted in a commute that averaged two hours and fifteen minutes and which sometimes had me waiting an extra twenty minutes or longer out in the cold, but I stuck with that commute because I really did enjoy it.
Most people aren’t as in love with transit as I am, so they would’t choose a commute that at best involves two trains and two buses. Others don’t have a choice and are faced with similar commutes because we lack options as a region. Luckily we have the chance to change that next year with the pending Transportation Investment Act, but we need transit to be strongly represented in the project list. The light rail projects that have been proposed would have huge implications for people like me who face epic commutes as well as folks who are looking to get out of their cars but can’t afford to spend four hours a day just trying to get to work and back. Along with expanded bus options, MARTA extensions and commuter rail we can make a transportation portfolio that will benefit everyone in the region and will help put Atlanta back on the map as a world class city.