I had a call today from the Braves business office, and spoke to Hannah Basinger about a topic that I had inquired about some time ago: "What is the status of the Braves/MARTA Shuttle Service?"
As you may recall, this service was cut near the end of last season in a budgetary move. There is activity moving that has the hope of restoring it, but -- especially for those living in the Atlanta area -- some actual participatory action may be necessary. Details after the jump...
Let me go ahead and quote from Hannah's follow-up letter to me:
Although it was announced last year that the shuttle would be discontinued, the Braves have continued to work with MARTA to reinstitute it. Attached you will find a press release from MARTA announcing their consideration of service modifications and the reinstatement of the Braves shuttle with support from the MARTA Board Chairman and Mayor Kasim Reed.
As indicated in the press release, prior to the MARTA Board’s vote, there will be five public hearings for people to voice their opinion. Attached is a flyer outlining the five dates and locations.
The voice of our fans will be instrumental in influencing the outcome of this vote. I ask that you please consider attending one of the five public sessions. If you are able to attend, please respond to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide which date and location you will be attending.
Thank you in advance for your support of this initiative.
Sincerely, Hannah Basinger
Manager, Guest Services, Atlanta Braves
Here are the links to the attachment she cited above:
-- (I hope those links work - I just signed up for the service and they haven't sent me the confirmation email yet!)
As I understand it, the board is intending to hold a vote on the fate of this shuttle very shortly after the hearings have been concluded. You may think that means that the decision has already been made. It's possible -- I frankly dunno either way. But I do know that public boards and politicians DO respond to volumes of people who show interest in their affairs.
My own participation is unfortunately limited, as I reside in North Alabama (God's Country). The initial reason I asked the question of the Braves' office was because my family and I are heading to Turner Field for the April 9th & 10th games and, well, I would pay to avoid the traffic near the stadium. Could I walk from the Five Points station? Maybe -- but definitely not real well, and I'd rather have my kids under closer control for that trek in unfamiliar territory. That's my interest.
I have taken the liberty of considering some 'talking points', should some of our locals choose to help us out in attending -- and perhaps speaking at -- one of these hearings:
1. MARTA is a mass-transit system. The single largest needs for the movement of large groups of people in Atlanta involve the downtown sporting events -- and none so more often than Atlanta Braves games. Why not then provide a service -- paid or not -- that links up to your higher revenue trains?
2. The use of a MARTA shuttle service would contribute to a cleaner Atlanta by taking cars off the road and replacing them with buses at probably at least a 15:1 ratio.
3. The traffic generated by the extra cars near the stadium on game days will undoubtedly cause numerous accidents. On top of this, emergency personnel will be challenged in even getting to those needing help as a result. With so many people from out-of-town attending games, you really don't want those people on the road before and after games!
4. For the tourists -- let's show Atlanta to be a city that's organized and helpful instead of one that abandons the visitors and leaves them to their own resources.
Now look, the Republican in me probably would not have built MARTA in the first place -- but that argument isn't even on the table here: now it's entirely about how to use the service in a way that makes most sense... for both the taxpayers and the riders. I certainly would appreciate having the service restored -- and it does make sense for convenience and in getting people both gathered and dispersed in the most safe and economical manner I can think of.
If you can help out, you certainly have my appreciation for trying. Thanks very much.