As the traffic builds on Atlanta streets surrounding the Interstate collapse, so does ridership on MARTA.
But since the I-85 bridge collapse, the biggest gripe about MARTA isn't full trains. It's full lots.
Station parking lots are filling up, early in the morning, across the MARTA system. It’s become such a pressing issue that the transit authority announced it was adding 1,200 more parking spots to several of its busiest stations. MARTA even rolled out a brand-new site to help riders keep track of the status on parking, in real time.
However, with new riders come new questions, and in some cases, concerns. 11Alive’s Matt Pearl checked out one of those concerns, after getting a letter into the newsroom.
On Tuesday, Andy in Doraville sent a note to 11Alive’s tip line saying: "You all need to do a story about how the MARTA lots are all full but several hundred spots in the Doraville garage are leased to Jim Ellis Automotive to store new vehicles."
First, 11Alive wanted to see if this was true. We scoped out the lot on Google Maps, and when we zoomed in on the top floor, we saw cars that looked like they featured giant white labels, similar to the kind you might see on new cars for sale.
We took it one step further and went down to the Doraville station itself. We found the East lot looked full and was closed, except to AT&T card holders. So, we reached out to MARTA, and sure enough, their spokesperson said the lot isn't theirs. We learned that AT&T owns the deck and leases 650 spots to Jim Ellis Automotive.
We also learned this: MARTA officials are currently trying to obtain those spots. MARTA officials did not want to do an interview on-camera, but said they are communicating with those business partners. The spokesperson said they were making some progress, but right now the spots still do not belong to them.
We shared this information with our e-mailer, Andy, but that explanation wasn’t satisfactory to him. He wrote back: "I'm aware of the issue, but this should have been one of the first things that was worked out for such an "emergency.”