ATLANTA – It was a major disruption to Atlanta traffic that helped showcase public transit, but most commuters who were impacted by the I-85 bridge collapse have returned to their cars.
Data provided by MARTA shows ridership is up slightly on the system’s rail line, and up just a bit more overall.
Ahlia Armbrester has noticed new faces during her daily ride on the rail.
“You hear the conversations on the side with people who run into each other from work, and they talk about how, ‘oh, yeah’, I stopped driving too.”
For six weeks, commuters lost a vital section of Interstate 85. Thousands scrambled for a new way, and MARTA’s rail line gained more than a half-million riders during the month just after the collapse. The agency’s CEO at the time was hopeful.
“Certainly it did create an opportunity for us to showcase what we can do,” said Keith Parker “I think many of those customers are going to be permanent.”
But most were eager to return to their cars.
MARTA’s numbers show that during the three months after the reopening of I-85, the system’s rail line saw an average of 5,571,000 riders a month, a .7 percent over the months before the collapse.
Overall, MARTA ridership is up 1.5 percent
A MARTA spokesperson says the agency is pleased with any increase.
“Why do you think the increase isn’t more?” asked Commuter Dude Jerry Carnes.
“People love their cars,” answered MARTA’s Erik Burton.
Burton points to reports that show public transit ridership is down nationwide.
“We consider it a win here,” says Burton. “While the national trend is going down, we’re at least staying steady or going up.”
MARTA says it took advantage of the increased ridership during the bridge collapse with added trains, buses, and discounts.