Monday Salmagundi

27 Aug
  • Good news/bad news from MARTA: A new round of bus service changes – mostly to align published arrival times more closely with when the buses are really showing up – went into effect Saturday for 27 routes. But the southwest entrance to Peachtree Center Station is open again, after being closed for two years for renovation and repairs. Peachtree Center Station, southwest entrance
    • From BuckheadView: Representatives of the ownership at Lenox Square mall presented proposed changes to the mall’s facade to the neighborhood’s design review committee. One of the new features to the entrance will be pedestrian access directly from Peachtree Road. That will be a big improvement on this:Pedestrians at Lenox Square
    • From Curbed Atlanta: Stanley Beaman Sears was selected in the City of Atlanta’s design competition as the firm to convert the first floor lobby of 72 Marietta Street into a gallery space. The building was formerly The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s headquarters building. The newspaper’s parent company donated the building to the city after the AJC’s move to Dunwoody in 2010.
  • The latest “regional snapshot”from the Atlanta Regional Commission focuses on the dramatic slowdown in the Atlanta metro area’s population growth in the last few years. The region’s population increased by about 37,200 people between April 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012 and by about 72,000 in the last two years, according to ARC’s research. In comparison, the region’s population increased by about 100,000 people each year during the decade between 1990 and 2000.

The root of the change, unsurprisingly, is in the wobbly economy. “The Atlanta region’s slowdown is directly attributable to the national economy. During weak economic periods, people don’t move as much because, firstly, job opportunities are slim, thus people aren’t moving to take new jobs. Secondly, with the housing market in such disarray, it is hard to sell a house, which tends to keep people in the same place,” ARC concluded.

Mitchell Street bridge to re-open Thursday

22 Aug
Mitchell Street bridge: South side, looking west

The woman in the photo insisted on being “your helper for the day.” She immediately resigned from the position upon discovering that I had no money.

Mitchell Street bridge bike laneMitchell Street bridge: facing west, north side

The Mitchell Street bridge in Castleberry Hill will officially re-open Thursday morning after a two-year reconstruction by the Georgia DOT. The bridge was closed in 2008 after transportation officials found it inadequate for the type and volume of traffic it was carrying, and construction began in 2010.

More than $8 million in federal stimulus funds were used to reconstruct the 88-year-old bridge, which now has bike lanes on both sides and parking along the south side.

Four Things for Wednesday

15 Aug

Terminus Plaza from the Piedmont Road side

  • Via Creative Loafing: A photo of one of the new vehicles for the downtown streetcar popped up on the Atlanta subreddit
  • Via Buckhead View: NPU-B residents who oppose the new Lindbergh-area development planned for the east side of Piedmont Avenue are digging in for a long fight and have a new website
  • Atlanta is among the top 20 tweeting-est cities in the world – one of only six American cities to make the list – according to a study by a French research and consulting firm
  • I’d planned to write something about how rare it is in Atlanta to come across public places like the plaza behind Terminus at Peachtree and Piedmont. It’s breezy in the summer, protected from rain and has plenty of seating and a view in both directions. But nearly as soon as this photo was taken, a member of the Terminus security staff appeared and apologetically said that the building’s management doesn’t allow photography there. So much for public.

Things to do for 20 minutes on a single-tracking Sunday

13 Aug
  1.  Count the tiny mice scampering around the track bed
  2. Try to remember when the information displays in the station last worked
  3. Try to figure out whether you could walk to the next station in 20 minutes
  4. Move out of the way so that guy can use the outlet behind you to charge his phone
  5. Think about just going back outside to catch the bus to where you’re going, but then remember that that bus route was eliminated last year
  6. Decline to buy socks/DVDs/a half-fare card/incense/a 9-volt battery
  7. Wonder what the life span of a transit station-dwelling pigeon is
  8. Be glad you’re not sitting next to the guy holding forth on what’s really in the Bible/the Constitution/the tax code/the water
  9. Wonder how anyone gets up to the ceiling to change the light bulbs over the tracks
  10. Check your phone to see how long you’ve been waiting now (See Item 2)

Idea of the Day: Bus Bunching

12 Jul
bus_bunching

Flickr photo by skew-t

If you’d come out of Buckhead Station’s north exit around 6:00 p.m. Tuesday you would have noticed two things: first, that there were far more people waiting for the route 110 bus than normal; second, that traffic was sitting absolutely still on Peachtree as far as you could see in both directions.
At 6:15, with the traffic creeping forward a few feet every few minutes and the bus scheduled to arrive at 6:13 nowhere in sight, you would have probably calculated that walking to the gym about a mile south of the station would be the quicker way to get there. But after walking south for about 10 minutes, around the time you were crossing Maple Drive, you would have noticed a route 110 bus heading north, toward the station you just left. You would have then noticed another one – directly behind the first. The first bus was very, very late. The second was almost on schedule.
What you would have seen is called bus bunching.
Bus bunching occurs when traffic or another delay slows down a bus’ progress along its route so much that the amount of the delay, as it’s compounded by the time required to stop and pick up passengers, exceeds the scheduled time between that bus and the one behind it. As the first bus continues along the route, it falls farther and farther behind schedule, as it has to keep stopping to pick up passengers. The second bus rarely has to stop, as there are very few or no passengers at all to pick up. Eventually the second bus is moving along the route so quickly that it catches up to the first one.  The shorter the headway, the more risk there is for bunching.
WABE and CNN recently posted stories about scientists at Georgia Tech who have developed an anti-bunching technique that relies less on schedules and more on calculated, adjustable delays coordinated by GPS. The system will be fully rolled out for the university’s Stinger Shuttle Tech Trolley system this fall and the developers say they’ve already been contacted by transit authorities here and abroad who are interested in implementing something similar.

Things People Say If You Mention Walking Home from Work

1 Jul
  1. “You do what?”
  2. “At night?”
  3. “By yourself?”
  4. “Aren’t you scared?”
  5. “In the heat/cold?”
  6. “Are you crazy/serious/kidding?”
  7. “All the way home?”
  8. “How far is that?”
  9. “It takes how long?”
  10. “Thirty-five minutes is a long time”
  11. “Do you have mace/pepper spray/a gun?”
  12. Why?”
  13. “You live down here?”

Regional rider surveys reveal locations, destinations, situations

1 Jul

Lindbergh Station_south end

Research from the Atlanta Regional Commission suggests that while geography is a pretty good predictor of where to find the most frequent transit users, who those users are is harder to pin down.

The ARC’s research concluded that “the percent of those using transit to go to work doubles in neighborhoods with close proximity to transit, and more than triples in areas with ‘premium’ transit access.” In short, to paraphrase William Whyte, people tend to use transit where there is transit to use.

Those “premium” transit areas, which the researchers define as neighborhoods within a half-mile of a transit station, tend to be populated by a higher percentage of college graduates and renters than the 20-county Atlanta metropolitan region as a whole. But those areas also have more residents living in poverty and who have less than a high-school diploma compared to the rest of the region.

Despite their easy access to transit, only about 13 percent of the people who live in those transit-rich neighborhoods said that they usually take transit to work. But that relatively small number is still close to four times more than the region as a whole, at less than 4 percent.

People between the ages of 18 and 34 make up more than 52 percent of transit riders, while they make up only 24 percent of the region’s total population. Most of the trips riders took – almost 62 percent – were between home and work or school.

Although 71 percent of the surveyed riders said they had a driver’s license, 41 percent said they didn’t have a vehicle available. At the other end of the spectrum, 27 percent of riders lived in households with at least two available vehicles.

The survey also found that about 51 percent of transit riders had household incomes of less than $30,000. That’s more than twice the percentage of households in the region as a whole falling into that income range.

See a full summary of the data in the ARC’s May “Regional Snapshot.”

How we get around – the big picture

24 Jun

Via GerdFuturist:

Nation on the Move” is the second episode in PBS’s “America Revealed” series. The 53-minute survey of the country’s air, rail and road network explores the infrastructure that keeps the massive systems running and explains why capacity chronically lags behind demand.

Around the 10-minute mark is an interesting piece of information: If the public school bus system was a public transit system, it would be by far the largest one in the country, carrying about 26 million passengers a day. Could some of Americans’ general apathy toward public transportation be partially rooted in memories of the often-unpleasant decade or more many of us spent riding school buses?

Perks of procrastination

7 Jun

Parking deck - Pritchard Ave

There’s something to be said for waiting until almost 10 to go out for the shampoo, starch and cereal.

You live in Atlanta but you don’t have a car, so…

24 May

  1. You have only a very faint idea what the “top-end perimeter” is.
  2. You don’t know what or where Spaghetti Junction is.
  3. When people stagger into work groaning about how “Highway xxxx was backed up all the way from xxxx Boulevard to Exit xxxx and it took me 30 minutes just to get to xxxx Road!” you say “Wow!” or “Really?” even though you don’t know what they’re talking about.
  4.  It never occurs to the other party in the above conversation that you might not know what they’re talking about.
  5. You’ve heard, but never actually listened to, a traffic report.
  6. You buy a lot of your stuff at grievously unfashionable places because the low-profile boutiques and out-of-the-way markets are too much work to get to.
  7. Cute shoes are something to be picked up, looked at wistfully, and put back down.
  8. When you go somewhere with a visitor who drove in from out of town and they ask “Where do I park?” you don’t know.
  9. Your driving directions are sometimes not to be trusted because you navigate at least as much by landmarks as by street names.
  10. About once a week you reflexively pull out your Breeze card instead of your debit card to pay for something.
  11. You see the same people on the street downtown so much that they long ago stopped asking you for money.
  12. You can take your jacket off, move your bag from one shoulder to the other, talk on the phone and walk, all at the same time, without slowing down.
  13. You don’t know what the big deal is about the parking at Atlantic Station.
  14. When you get a Zipcar you’ll probably either forget to turn on the lights or which direction to push the turn signal lever.
  15. People think you don’t have a driver’s license.
  16. You carry a bag, not a purse.
  17. You don’t leave home in the summer without baby wipes, a few paper towels and maybe an extra shirt.
  18. You can walk up the escalators at Peachtree Center faster than people half your age or 30 pounds lighter than you.
  19. You carry something with long sleeves in the summer if you know you’ll be riding a bus.
  20. Although you’d never say it to anyone, you don’t know or care how much gas is.
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