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Letter to Keith Parker Regarding “The Turn” at 16th and Peachtree

In Open Letter on September 8, 2014 at 11:53 PM

September 8, 2014

Keith Parker
General Manager & Chief Executive Officer
MARTA
2424 Piedmont Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324-3311

Re: Letter to Keith Parker Regarding “The Turn” at 16th and Peachtree

Dear Mr. Parker:

As a long-time MARTA bus rider and rail supporter, I am writing you today in order to indicate my concern with one bus route heavily frequented by many in Atlanta on a daily basis, i.e., the popular 110 bus line (also known as “The Peach”). Running from Lenox Mall to Arts Center and Five Points, this north-south bus line runs into a predictable and unfortunate bottleneck/detour, known as “The Turn” by frustrated commuters having experienced it up close, beginning at the cross-section of 16th Street and Peachtree Street.

At this intersection, a MARTA bus heading southward on Peachtree Street is forced to pause and swing widely by habit in a manner obstructive to on-coming vehicles on 16th Street in the process of attempting to pull off arguably the most challenging turn in Atlanta. Immediately here, the bus is then confronted by a direct standoff and confrontation with on-coming vehicles that are waiting patiently (and lawfully based on my observations) at the red stoplight. Typically, what unfolds next is that 3 to 4 vehicles (the longer the standoff the higher the number of automobiles that typically pile up in delay) are forced to reverse in a domino effect to accommodate the MARTA bus. A final inching forward and backward occurs between opposing bumpers as the end step in this standoff in an effort to effectively clear the corner, with the whole episode lasting about one to two minutes per vehicle. Afterward, by the way, the same MARTA bus proceeds to make a second unnecessary turn onto Arts Center Way in order to travel behind The High Museum and eventually make a necessary right turn onto 15th Street, positioning the bus at Arts Center rail station.

All in total, I estimate the whole setback amounts to lost time of 500 to 3,500 hours per year for workers. If you assume a median hourly wage of $23.21 in Atlanta as of May 2013, based on estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, then the total amount of lost wages is equivalent to $11,605 to $81,235 per year, that is, before considering the added fuel costs and upkeep resulting from the unnecessary starts and stops included in the route right now.

As an easy solution, I recommend you re-direct the 110 bus route in order to by-pass “The Turn” altogether and instead travel an additional 110 yards southward past 16th Street to nail the turn at 15th Street and Peachtree. Barring that solution being implemented, I recommend at least painting a broad, bright white caution stripe on 16th Street to be sufficiently placed well in advance of the stoplight at that intersection; so, that all parties involved may be forewarned of the potential delay. Right now, the route is otherwise borderline unsafe, unsecure and unreliable; and, therefore, costly for MARTA in the short-run and long-run as frustration continues to present itself.

In the interim, rush-hour delays and headaches await bus drivers, customers, pedestrians and opposing vehicles that have experienced this unfortunate turn. Therefore, any day Monday through Friday I strongly encourage you to have a closer look at rearranging the logistics of this rough spot in the 110 route.

Regards,

James Breedlove

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