Transportation and the Economy
The relationship between mobility and the economy is complicated. When physical presence is required to deliver goods and services, mobility is a necessity for the economy to work. Therefore, disrupted travel patterns — like those noted in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic – can impact local and statewide economies. Public transit provides critically important mobility for people who choose not to drive personal vehicles and those who cannot drive personal vehicles for trips. Tracking data on public transportation ridership during such uncertain times both shows how people using transit have responded in past weeks to the pandemic and how the state’s economy may be recovering.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) provides intermodal transit service to the greater Atlanta region. MARTA provides service to 1.7 million residents in Metro Atlanta through buses, vans, and rail, and the system is responsible for $2.6 billion in economic activity each year. Despite the challenge of providing safe transit options, MARTA has continued to provide transit options during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were swift to enact policies and other measures that ensure the safety of riders and operators, and they are regularly adapting their policies and services to accommodate customers’ needs and safety.
During the pandemic, some MARTA users’ travel habits have changed. The graphs below show daily ridership as compared to an average weekday or weekend for rail (first page) and bus (second page). MARTA rail systems saw a decrease in ridership beginning in mid-March, and ridership rates have steadied to approximately 35% – 40% of a typical weekday or weekend. Bus ridership, however, has seen a less dramatic decrease; ridership has fluctuated between 40% and 70% of a typical workday, and often upwards of 70% on weekends. MARTA bus routes may be capturing trips of many essential workers, as their travel patterns have not changed as dramatically.
For more information on MARTA’s services and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit their website: itsmarta.com