Progress on Transportation Goes Beyond Infrastructure

March 2,2020

Shayna Pollock, Saporta Report

The City of Atlanta’s resident population is expected to nearly triple to 1.2 million in the next 25 years. If we continue our travel patterns (54% of all trips in Atlanta are currently made in single occupancy vehicles), we will have almost 400,000 additional drivers on the road in 2040. Urgent and deliberate action to establish policies to shift trips to walking, bicycling, and riding transit is needed to ensure that we take advantage of our existing and future transportation infrastructure as Atlanta continues to grow. 

The City of Atlanta is making a critical and much needed investment in its transportation infrastructure. More MARTA, Renew Atlanta, and the Mayor’s Action Plan for Safer Streets are all creating more opportunities to take transit, ride a bike, or walk around the City. Additional multimodal transportation is needed, but infrastructure is just one piece of the puzzle. 

While Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (CAP/ADID) continue to support the reconfiguration of Downtown’s streets to support mobility, safety, and livability, we’re also directly focusing on the demand side of the transportation equation. In order to balance our transportation network, the appropriate policies and educational tools must be in place to encourage residents, workers, and visitors to take advantage of all their transportation options. 

Looking at cities around the country experiencing significant growth is instructive. The first step is baking smart transportation-supportive elements into the built environment. Tactics like working with developers to install real-time arrival signs for MARTA trains, encouraging the provision of bicycle fleets in properties, and creating parking programs that encourage flexibility are important steps. We also need to look critically at parking; parking is cheap and plentiful in Downtown Atlanta, but that isn’t indicative of its true cost. Changing policies around parking can encourage smart commuting and influence land use. Lastly, we need our major employers to support their employees by providing incentives—such as a discounted transit pass or cash in lieu of free parking— to take a smart commute. 

Through our Downtown Connects program, CAP/ADID continues to work directly with employers and employees to facilitate smart commuting. We develop tailored recommendations to employers seeking to bolster their commuter benefits packages, reduce parking needs, and support an active and healthy workforce.  

We recognize that building a sustainable future for Downtown starts with changing just one car trip, so we help match carpool riders, sell discounted transit passes, recommend a transit routes, and provide access to a bike commuter class and more every day of the year. Visit our website to find out more about our services and to try a smart commute. 

And speaking of smart commutes, here’s an immediate opportunity: during the upcoming NCAA Men’s Final Four, we’re offering free transit passes to eligible Downtown commuters to help them switch their commute and handle road closures and increased traffic with ease. Those interested in receiving a pass can take the qualifying survey here between March 2-18.