Category: Getting Around
The historic rail station located in the Buckhead community was built in 1918 as a suburban stop on the line emanating from the grand downtown rail terminal. Today it is Atlanta’s main passenger rail terminal serving as a stop along Amtrak’s Crescent passenger service that connects New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Birmingham and New Orleans.
Atlanta serves as the juncture of three Interstate Highways: I-75, the major link between Detroit and the Great Lakes and the Southeast and Miami; I-85, which runs between Petersburg, Virginia and Montgomery, Alabama; and I-20, which starts near Kent, in west Texas, passes through the states of the deep south and ends in Florence, South Carolina. Interstate I-285, known locally as the Perimeter, circles the city providing a bypass route as well as serving as a major commuter road
Hartsfield-Jackson International Atlanta Airport, just south of the city of Atlanta, is easily accessible by car or MARTA rail service which stops inside the main terminal. The busiest airport in the world is easy to navigate with programmed trains connecting all terminals with the ticketing and baggage claim areas. In addition, there are also many county airports in the metro Atlanta region serving private plane owners and charter services.
Gateway to the World!
by: Gwyn Herbein
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
For more than 10 years, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has reigned supreme as the world’s busiest airport. Each year, more than 95 million passengers—an average of about 250,000 each day—walk the halls of the airport’s seven concourses and board flights to one of the more than 200 destinations served from one of its 207 gates. Twenty different regional, national and international carriers operate flights from Hartsfield. But Hartsfield-Jackson is more than just a way to get from point A to point B, or a stopover for people on their way to other destinations; it is a major cog in the city’s economic wheel, with an estimated economic impact of $32.5 billion.
Like the city itself, Atlanta’s airport had humble beginnings. Back in April 1925, then-Mayor Walter
Sims signed a five-year lease on an abandoned racetrack and committed his city to developing it into an airfield. Four years later, the city purchased the land (for the bargain price of $94,400) and named it Atlanta Municipal Airport. A fledgling passenger airline named Delta moved its headquarters from Monroe, La., to Atlanta in 1941, paving the way for the airline’s operations to grow. The city added passenger terminals in the 1970s and 1980s, MARTA access arrived in 1988 and the 1.2 million-square-foot Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal opened to much fanfare in May 2012. These milestones are proof that the city’s investment in its airport has more than paid off.
For passengers who choose to drive to the airport, the domestic terminal is easily accessible from I-85 south of downtown, while the new international terminal is accessible via I-75. Parking at the airport is easy, with more than 33,000 available spaces. For those who prefer to make use of the city’s public transportation system, the airport is the terminus of the Red and Gold lines on MARTA.
Once inside Hartsfield, passengers can use one of 57 security lanes to quickly enter the main terminal and the lettered concourses. An easy-to use inter-airport train system, known as the Automated People Mover, travels a 3-mile loop and connects all concourses with the domestic terminal. Hartsfield-Jackson boasts a whopping 114 food and beverage locations, 90 retail and convenience stores, three duty-free stores and 56 service outlets, including ATMs, vending machines and spas.
More Than an Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson’s statistical profile, while impressive, only tells part of the story. In many ways, the airport is a city unto itself, employing more than 58,000 people, from those outside, who run airport operations like air traffic controllers and ground crew, to those inside, like vendors and security staff, who make traveling through Atlanta comfortable and safe for thousands of
passengers each day. The economic downturn hit the metro area hard, and recovery has been slow. A report released by the airport in November 2014 showed that jobs at the airport grew 9.1 percent over the past four years. This shows that the city is committed to rebuilding from the ground up, as jobs in the transportation sector can have a ripple effect across the rest of the local economy.
The Future of Atlanta
Never a city to rest on its laurels, Atlanta has been working long and hard to plan for both the city’s and the airport’s future. In March 2014, leaders from a wide range of public and private industries launched the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance. The term “aerotropolis,” which was coined by Dr. John Karsada of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, means using an airport as a means of urban development to connect workers, suppliers, executives and goods. With companies like Porsche Cars North America building developments and bringing business to the areas near the airport, Hartsfield-Jackson is well positioned to enhance its status as a vital part of the city’s economy.
Within the airport, the success of the international terminal has spurred further proposals for growth. In 2014, the airport’s leadership unveiled a $4 billion vision for a variety of projects over the next 15 years. Plans for larger parking garages, additional cargo buildings, new concourses and an additional runway are all in the planning stages for funding and logistics. No matter where you are going, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will get you there quickly and safely.
MARTA- Not Your Mom’s MARTA!
by: Gwyn Herbein
Consisting of two major rail lines, East-West and North-South and a supporting bus system, MARTA provides a convenient way to travel to major points and areas of the Atlanta area.
You don’t have to live in Atlanta very long before likely hearing the mantra “MARTA…it’s s’MARTA!” repeated several times. MARTA, which stands for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, a network of trains, shuttles and buses, provides access to some of the metro area’s largest businesses and busiest tourist attractions. From Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Centennial Olympic Park and the bustling shopping districts of Buckhead and Perimeter Mall, commuters have many ways to get from point A to point B. With route expansions, station renovations and technology integrations well underway, MARTA and its leadership are working hard to ensure that Atlanta—and its residents—keep moving forward.
Where MARTA’s Been
In a city known for its urban sprawl and frustrating gridlock traffic, residents appreciate having options for getting where they need to go. As Atlanta and its population began to grow in the middle of the twentieth century, city officials recognized the importance of public transportation. After considering a variety of plans and proposals, in 1965 the state legislature passed the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Act, which created the system now known as MARTA, and it was subsequently approved by four counties and the City of Atlanta. The next several years were spent consolidating a patchwork of existing systems as well as securing land and voter approval to purchase the Atlanta Transit System.
On June 30, 1979, the first MARTA train began operating between the Avondale and Georgia State
stations. From there, service spread to the south, to the Airport station, to the north, to Buckhead and beyond, as well as to the east and west. New stations continued opening well into the beginning
of the 21st century, with the addition of Sandy Springs and North Springs in 2000. The hard work
and dedication of city officials, MARTA employees and community members has helped bolster a
system that Atlanta can be proud of. Saba Long, a spokeswoman for MARTA, notes that MARTA now has the distinction of being the ninth-largest transit system in the country. “MARTA serves millions of Atlanta area residents and visitors,” she notes. “With direct connections to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, business districts, major tourist attractions and historic neighborhoods, MARTA is a reliable, safe transportation alternative.” Long also notes that
MARTA was the first transit system in the country to adopt a stored value smartcard—known as the
Breeze card—as a mechanism for customers to pay their fare. “Breeze cards can be purchased and reloaded online or at any of MARTA’s 38 rail stations,” she adds.
Where MARTA’s Going
Now a well-oiled network of trains, buses, parkand- ride lots and other amenities, MARTA and its leadership have their eyes focused on bringing the system into the future. Through station
improvements and expansions, its “Ride With Respect” initiative and technological upgrades, MARTA is transforming itself into a system that appeals to a wide range of Atlanta’s demographics. First and foremost, MARTA leadership understands that many of its customers rely on their mobile devices every day to provide up to date information. “Customers can download
MARTA’s free ‘On the Go’ mobile app to find scheduling information, real-time bus and rail
arrival information and service alerts for MARTA’s four rail lines and 91 bus routes,” says Long. “By
developing and maintaining the mobile app in house, MARTA is able to provide customers with
prompt updates to assist customers in trip planning.”
As a companion to its Ride With Respect campaign, which encourages riders to be considerate of their fellow passengers, the system also has a “See Something, Say Something” app. “Just as you would immediately report suspicious or improper behavior in an airport, you should do the same when using public transit,” says Long. “Using the app empowers customers to anonymously report suspicious behavior. Thanks to the public’s help and the diligence of MARTA’s able police force, MARTA ranks as one of the safest transit systems in the country.”
As the metro area has expanded, the system has been actively investigating ways to be more accessible to more residents. It secured its first jurisdictional expansion in November 2014, when Clayton County residents voted to bring the authority into the county. “In 2015, MARTA began bus service to Clayton County, connecting its residents with Fulton, DeKalb and the City of Atlanta. Within a decade, the Authority anticipates a high capacity transit project such as commuter rail or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will open in Clayton,” says Long of the expansion.
MARTA is also investigating the possibility of future projects. “Among them [are] extending the Red Line past Mansell Road, a Light Rail Transit (LRT) project connecting Atlanta and the Clifton Corridor and a high-capacity transit project along I-20 East,” explains Long. “These projects will exponentially increase the region’s transit access and connect thousands of residents and visitors to employment centers and neighborhoods.” Long touts the importance of transit-oriented development as a way to attract what the authority refers to as lifestyle customers, or people who intentionally incorporate transit into their daily lives.
As more and more companies relocate to the metro area and development projects from Ponce City Market in Midtown to Avalon in Alpharetta attract millenials and other workers to concentrated areas, transit becomes more important. “Companies such as PulteGroup and Bellsouth have intentionally moved their corporate offices to Atlanta and specifically in close proximity to MARTA rail stations,” says Long. “This is a clear sign public perception towards MARTA and transit is shifting in the metro Atlanta region.”