Giving Thanks

Fri Apr 13, 2007

Atlanta is a beltway town—it is defined by the interstate, known as the Perimeter, that encircles it. It has a notoriously paltry system of public transportation. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, or MARTA, operates two rail lines, which form a cross whose ends extend, at most, a few stops past the Perimeter. Most communities have no access to it, and there are prejudices against it. (You don’t have to be in Atlanta long before someone relates, ruefully or conspiratorially, an alternative source of the acronym—“Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.”) Decades ago, residents of two counties surrounding the city voted down an extension of the MARTA system. Ninety-four per cent of Atlantans commute by car, and the city has the highest annual per-capita gasoline costs in the country. According to the last census, the travel time in Atlanta grew faster in the nineties than in any other American city, and it’s getting worse. Travelling ten miles can take forty-five minutes.

From Nick Paumgarten’s There and Back Again.

At a mildly brisk walk, it now takes seven minutes to go from house to classroom. When I lived near the Clifton and Ponce intersection, it took at least thirty minutes in average morning traffic to drive five miles to Georgia Tech (this is in-town traffic, mind you.)