GaTech Students Pave the Road for a Public Transportation Initiative
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Georgia Tech students have been at the forefront of a movement sweeping through the Atlanta public transportation system. Public transportation in Atlanta goes by the name of MARTA, and the initiative, called the "MARTA Army" is a grassroots organization that has gained traction among riders/users and enthusiasts over the last few months. Anyone can join the group and participate to implement small projects on a large scale to improve the ridership experience. Being a part of the MARTA Army allows riders to claim ownership of their user experience by interacting directly with the system.
The MARTA Army has partnered with local businesses and associations to hold neighborhood round tables throughout the Atlanta Region to get more people engaged. At these events, many residents get involved by adopting one of MARTA’s 10,000 bus stops. Anyone can adopt a bus stop and get a weather-proof sign with the bus route number and schedule to put up at their stop. Since the vast majority of MARTA bus stops still lack basic signage, the adopt-a-stop program was a way to communicate with the public regarding MARTA service availability.
Last year in November, the MARTA Army announced the next initiative: MARTA Kudos. The program basically allows anyone to nominate a MARTA employee to be recognized as demonstrating outstanding performance by the public, the MARTA Army, and the transit agency itself. Users input their transit experience, time, and location into a simple webform and the MARTA army sorts through the data. The MARTA Army publicly recognized the first Kudos Awards in March 2016 with special honor to bus operator Nathaniel Smith.
"Student organization and involvement in engaging the local communities with public transportation has been a rewarding way of sharing our expertise as researchers in ways to improve transit usability," said Alice Grossman, a graduate student at GaTech.
Grossman also says that engaging with the public brings new perspectives and experiences with the local transportation system to learn from and apply within and outside of academia.
Check out the MARTA Army at MARTAarmy.org and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) at @MARTAarmy