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Things You Never Knew You Wanted to Know: MARTA’s Lost and Found

28 Apr

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In a small office at the north corner of the Forsyth Street side of Five Points Station, through a door next to a set of glass-partitioned windows, sit a pair of huge suitcases, at least seven bicycles, umbrellas, jackets and backpacks by the dozen, knee-high piles of books, scores of sets of keys, a saxophone and two baby carriers. They’re among the more than 500 items that will be left in transit stations, trains and buses this month and eventually find their way to MARTA’s lost and found.

  • Most frequently lost items: Keys, phones, book bags, glasses, books
  • Full-time lost and found staff: Zero. The staff at the reduced-fare office also run the agency’s lost and found –  logging, sorting and storing the items, maintaining the lost and found database, attempting to contact the owners of lost IDs and fielding calls and emails from people looking for their belongings
  • Eight bicycles were left on MARTA in the last 30 days, four of them just this week. Most were left on bus bike racks.
  • Conventions, festivals and major sporting events don’t generate spikes in the number of lost items. What does? New Years Eve and weekends.
  • Chances that a lost item will be claimed by its owner: Pretty low. The average claim rate so far this year is 17 percent. The average claim rate for fiscal 2011 was less than 12 percent, and less than 20 percent for fiscal 2010.
  • Average number of items turned in per month: 560
  • Items most likely to be claimed: Phones, wallets, laptops and other electronics
  • After 30 days, usable unclaimed items are usually donated to the Red Cross, Salvation army, church outreach organizations and shelters. Unclaimed keys are turned over to MARTA’s building services department for scrap metal
  • A prosthetic leg was brought in last summer. It has yet to be claimed.

Sources:

Roosevelt Stripling – manager of customer service, reduced fare and lost found

Leslie C. Porter – supervisor of half-fare eligibility

Wednesday Night: Downtown Streetcar Public Info Open House

17 Apr
Downtown streetcar route map

Streetcar route map: CAP/ADID

 

Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District will host a public information open house Wednesday evening focusing on revitalization of the downtown streetcar corridor.

CAP and ADID are seeking public input on redevelopment and land use plans for the Sweet Auburn and Fairlie-Poplar neighborhoods, where the project’s 2.7-mile light rail loop is under construction. 

The event will run from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Odd Fellows Building at 236 Auburn Ave., Wednesday, April 18.

The easiest transit access is by the route 16 or route 110 bus.

New service cuts could be in MARTA’s future

3 Apr

The AJC reported yesterday that the state legislature’s failure to pass a bill suspending MARTA’s  50/50 revenue-spending split is likely to result in “deep service cuts.”

HB 1052 would have lifted until 2016 the requirement that half of the agency’s revenue be set aside for capital expenses and half used for capital improvements. The current exemption to that law will remain in effect until July 2013.

“The transit agency, banking on commitments from legislators,  expected to keep the exemption for at least three more years but without it expects to lose a projected total of  $9.7 million during that time,” The AJC reported.

MARTA officials wanted the spending limits permanently lifted, but had agreed to the three-year suspension as a compromise. But a group of Democrats in the House opposed the measure because they wanted a more permanent fix. The result was that the legislation was, in the words of MARTOC Chairman Mike Jacobs, “torpedoed.”

The legislature could pass the bill early next session, which would keep the exemption in effect, Jacobs said. If that doesn’t happen, the combination of still-low sales tax revenue and the spending restriction will force the agency to “gut significant parts of the service,” MARTA’s General Manager, Beverly Scott told The AJC.

MARTA is also looking at other was to trim costs, including increasing non-union employees’ health care contributions and reducing management staff, The AJC reported. The agency expects to find even more places to cut expenses when it analyzes the findings from the second part of a three-phase audit at the end of this year.

Atlanta Streets Alive Moves to North Highland

25 Mar

Atlanta Streets Alive is moving from downtown to a route planned to run two miles along North Highland Avenue from Inman Park to Virginia-Highland. from Old Fourth Ward, through Inman Park and Poncey-Highland to Virginia-Highland.*

The free, semiannual street festival and bike tour, scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. May 20, was launched downtown in 2010. The event’s food, fitness, arts, dance and music activities took place along parts of Edgewood and Auburn Avenues for the first two years, but with construction of the downtown streetcar loop now underway, ASA’s organizers had to find a new site.

Rebecca Serna, executive director of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, said that organizers had planned to eventually try other sites around the city, but the construction “was the kick that we needed” to go ahead and take the show on the road. Increasing bike-friendliness  is a Poncey-Highland neighborhood priority, Serna said, and response from residents and businesses in the area has been “really enthusiastic.”

ASA is still seeking volunteers, sponsors and “activity partners” for this year’s event.

*Updated to reflect ASA’s amended route outline, which now aligns with the boundaries in the City of Atlanta’s NPU and neighborhood maps.

MMPT public meeting Wednesday night

12 Mar
Gulch, facing north

The area of downtown known as "the gulch" seen from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, facing north

Central Atlanta Progress is hosting a public information meeting Wednesday to discuss the Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal project planned for (eventual) construction in the downtown “gulch.”

“The project team will introduce the project and provide background on planning efforts surrounding the MMPT, as well as why this process is different,” CAP said in an email. Planned topics of discussion are “the national trend of transit-oriented development (TOD), the role of public/private partnerships, the relationship of the MMPT to the City of Atlanta and the State, and how this project can help build a stronger Downtown.”

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Georgia Pacific building at 133 Peachtree Street. Georgia Pacific is right next door to the Peachtree Center MARTA station and is also served by the route 110 bus.

Phoenix Flies

11 Mar

Phoenix Flies flier by the Atlanta Preservation Center

Via Architecture Tourist, a reminder that the Atlanta Preservation Center’s 10th annual Phoenix Flies walking tour series is underway. This year’s series runs from March 10 to 25 and is scheduled to include more than 165 free events at more than 60 locations. 

APC began Phoenix Flies in 2003 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fox Theatre’s narrow escape from demolition. Since then it’s grown to include tours and lectures in historic neighborhoods and sites all over the city, offering opportunities for more and more of us to learn about places that we really should have been to, but aren’t even quite sure how to find. Or maybe that’s just me.

Did you know…

8 Mar

That there’s a produce market downtown and that it’s been there for almost 20 years? 

The State of Georgia office building at 2 Peachtree Street, with its gates, revolving doors and empty street-level retail spaces, doesn’t look particularly inviting at ground level. Everything about it seems to say “keep going” rather than “come in.” It certainly doesn’t give the impression that one could walk in with $10 and leave with three apples, three oranges, a pound of strawberries, some freshly roasted cashews, a slice of cheesecake and a couple of dollars change. 

 

 

There’s no sign for R & R Produce on either the Marietta or Peachtree Street side of the building. The store is about as deep as a large office cubicle and it takes only around 15 steps to walk the length of it. But the sliver of ground floor space is jammed with fruits and vegetables, most of them from the Forest Park Farmers Market.

 

The owners greet some of the shoppers by name, but even speak to those they’ve just met as if they’re long-separated friends. Office workers, students and people struggling to wrangle small, antsy children stand patiently in the single line to pay (cash or EBT only). As they wait, the shoppers marvel at the variety of foods and remark on the low prices. Usually at least one person says “I had no idea this place was here.”

 

Slow Going: Congestion stats from ARC

21 Feb

Image: ARC

The latest Atlanta Regional Commission’s “Regional Snapshot” shows how Atlanta’s traffic congestion stats stacks up against 14 other major metros. The ARC analyzed data from the American Community Survey, the American Transportation Research Institute and the Texas Transportation Institute and found Atlanta ranked:

  • 11th for total hours of congestion-related delays
  • 9th for the total number of jobs
  • 4th for the total number of hours that commuters spend traveling to their jobs each year. The Atlanta metro average was 126 hours per year, which equals about three weeks of workdays.
  • 4th for the percentage of workers who have at least a 45-minute commute to work
  • 1st in the Southeast for congestion cost per commuter. Here’s how the congestion cost was calculated

Metro Atlanta’s I-285 and 1-85 North interchange also ranked ninth among the 250 most congested bottlenecks in the country, according to American Transportation Research Institute data.

A possible upside to those numbers: “Areas with the most jobs tend to also have the most congestion,” the ARC report said. So, Atlanta’s status as a major job center is still intact, but that might soon be overshadowed by its reputation as a place to sit in traffic on the way to those jobs.

MARTA News: Buses and Bridges

17 Jan

Bus stop sign

If you’re already bored with last September’s set of bus route modifications, another round is being proposed to take effect in April. MARTA will hold public meetings Tuesday, Jan. 24 and Thursday, Jan. 26 for input on the proposed changes, which will affect five routes:

  • Route 1 – Centennial Olympic Park /Coronet Way
  • Route 12Howell Mill Road / Cumberland
  • Route 32Bouldercrest / Georgia Aquarium
  • Route 86Fairington Road / McAfee Road
  • Route 115Covington Highway / South Hairston Road

Preliminary work is scheduled to get underway today on the new entrance and pedestrian bridges that will link the north end of Buckhead Station with Tower Place. MARTA awarded the contract (PDF) for construction of the project to Archer Western Contractors last October and expects construction to be completed in November 2013.

Edit: See Atlanta Business Chronicle for more, bigger and better renderings of the project. H/T to AtlUrbanist

Distance only gets you halfway there

13 Jan

Because of Atlanta’s lingering tendency toward low-density development, lots of the “cool” places that have cropped up in the last few years are in places that can be inconvenient to get to using transit. The prospect of trying a new gallery, restaurant or store loses a lot of its appeal when getting there requires an hour of walk-wait-ride-wait-ride-walk, especially when it would be a 10-minute drive from your starting point.

So when The Little Tart Bakeshop (LTB) opened at a Memorial Drive location less than a mile from King Memorial Station with Octane, it looked like a rare and welcome exception to that trend. In order to walk from King Memorial Station to LTB, you only have to go South on Grant Street, cross Memorial Drive, then continue walking east on Memorial Drive until you reach The Jane, which LTB is on the south side of.  Sounds simple enough. But it looks like this:

 

Grant Street tunnel

King Memorial Grant Street lot

There were supposed to have been a couple more photos from Memorial Drive, but the camera drew some unwanted attention there and it was starting to look like this post was going to end up being less about a bakery and more about a robbery.

These shots were taken at 6:45 p.m. in January, but even with the addition of sunlight (and subtractration of the guy sizing you up and eyeing your camera), the empty lots, narrow sidewalks, close, fast-moving cars and lack of other pedestrians make it a monotonous, un-inviting walk.

The parking lot behind The Jane was nearly full of cars, as were the lots and sidestreets near the bars and restaurants on either side of it. The lack of people on the street was no indicator of the number of people to be found at the destination. But both on the way there and on the way back, it felt as if a dead possum in the road and I were just about the only ones who tried walking anywhere that night. People are attracted to a space by other people, so if no one walks there, no one will walk there.The Little Tart Bakeshop

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