Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, At-Word Program, graduates

As Atlanta City Employees Celebrate Fare-Free Transit Initiative, Expansion Plan Draws Criticism

Atlanta city employees lauded a recent "fare-free" initiative by the city that provided complimentary MARTA access for several months.

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, Atlanta city employees have praised a recent initiative that offered complimentary access to the city’s public transportation system, MARTA, access for several months. The pilot program, which ended in February, highlighted the substantial financial benefits of using public transportation, such as saving on gas and vehicle maintenance costs.

Introduced by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens as a gesture of appreciation toward city workers, the initiative saw noticeable uptick among employees residing in southwest Atlanta and those commuting downtown.

TJ English, a city code enforcement officer with the Atlanta Police Department, praised the program. He used MARTA for over 700 trips during the six months.

English highlighted the convenience and savings of not needing to fuel up his car, appreciating the efficiency and financial relief provided by the program, FOX 5 reported. He was also able to take funds that would typically cover transportation costs and devote them to other necessities.

MARTA also has plans to expand its light rail service into the Beltline, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But the project faces scrutiny. The Beltline is allocating funds to study transit integration into the northwest section, lacking a pre-existing rail corridor. “A new community group launched last fall questioning “the wisdom” of rail on the Beltline,” the AJC reported. “The group released a poll of 600 Atlanta voters, 53% of whom said rail would destroy the park.”

The proposed streetcar expansion aims for a green approach, incorporating trees and shrubs between tracks to create a barrier. Despite higher costs, light rail is favored over alternatives like buses due to capacity and disruption concerns. The planned streetcar route would extend east along Edgewood Avenue before connecting to the Beltline, signaling a continued push toward sustainable transit solutions.

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