Atlanta transit ranked one of world's worst

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 19, 2013 

In a Dec. 15, 2010 photo, passengers leave an Eastbound MARTA train at the Five Points MARTA Station in downtown Atlanta. MARTA has crunched the numbers, and in the month after it cut back bus hours by 10 percent and rail by 14 percent, MARTA lost a lot of riders. The service cutbacks began Sept. 25, and pass prices rose on Oct. 3. In October, people took 37,000 fewer train trips than they did in September, and 325,000 fewer bus trips.

JASON GETZ — AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta's public transportation is often derided as insufficient to serve its metro populace; chronically late to the people who do use it; and underfunded (thanks in part to the economic reticence of several suburbs, such as Cobb County).

In a new report, Atlanta transit can add another unfortunate descriptor to the list: worse than, well, basically everything else.

In the international consulting firm Arthur D. Little's "Future of Urban Mobility," the city ranks 82nd on an index of 0-100 points "highlighting the mobility challenges cities face on a worldwide basis." Unfortunately, the index only includes 84 major cities, which means Atlanta (about 32 points) only ranked higher than Baghdad (which, you'll remember, is a major city in a country that has been ravaged by conflict for a decade) and Hanoi.

But there is more bad news for a lot of other places: only 11 cities scored higher than 52 on the index; the average score is 43.9 points, meaning everywhere isn't living up to even half of their mobility potential for citizens.

What did top-ranking global cities such as Hong Kong (58 points), Stockholm (57) and Amsterdam (57) do right? According to the "Global Management Consultancy"'s report, Europe's "urban mobility systems" are the most mature in the world. Hong Kong, and the Asian Pacific more broadly, "outperform other regions in public transport related criterion (financial attractiveness of PT, share of modal split, smart cards)."

As Creative Loafing points out, "(M)ost North American cities were at a disadvantage due to the continent's reliance on cars and related CO2 emissions. The firm's findings, however, didn't elaborate much about what specifically contributed to Atlanta's low rankings."

CL's headline pretty much says it all: "Atlanta's transit ranks between Baghdad and Tehran."

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