ATLANTA -- Even as many drivers are overjoyed about the reopening of I-85 in the coming days, there's one agency that's not exactly thrilled about it.
MARTA had seen a massive influx of ridership since the collapse as commuters attempted to avoid the highway hassles. But that could come to an end -- or at least slow down -- now that the major artery has reopened.
The transit authority hasn't yet analyzed its ridership data for the first workday following the repair of I-85, but the evidence of its reduced ridership was apparent by looking at the empty spaces at the Doraville parking lot.
"It's the first time I've been able to do this since the road collapsed," said Larry Moore. He found plenty of spaces in the lot on his way to work today. "So, this has been a good day. I'm glad it's (I-85) is up and running."
The Doraville and other lots on the outskirts of the system stayed mostly full the past six weeks. According to the transit system's numbers, rail passengers jumped more than 11 percent as motorists unable to use I-85 chose to ride MARTA trains instead.
Officials with the transit authority said they fully expected that increase to evaporate once they highway reopened. But MARTA General Manager and CEO Keith Parker said in an interview before I-85 reopened he thought many of those customers would become permanent customers.
To help sweeten the deal, MARTA officials said they are open to the possibility of offering incentives to customers, like reduced fares, over the next few weeks to keep those new riders.
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