We often discuss the benefits of public transit in terms of job accessibility, improved air quality, reduced congestion, and economic development, but what other ways does transit benefit our communities? A new poll, based out of Atlanta, Georgia shows that transit may improve connections between individuals and their community, serving as a tool to enrich and strengthen the social fabric.
According to poll results, transit riders reported a stronger connection to their neighborhood, county, and even the metro Atlanta area than drivers. Responses indicated that the connection to community that comes from riding transit is a result of a better appreciation for one’s surroundings, reduced social isolation, and exposure to and interaction with different people and places. While there is little formal research on the topic, Keith Barker, the new General Manager of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), says he has seen evidence of this trend in his experience managing transit systems in Charlotte, North Caroline and now in Atlanta, Georgia. According to Barker, riders create a sense of community aboard trains and buses.
Although MARTA has struggled with rising fares and a failed 2012 referendum that would have provided much-needed transit funding, MARTA is relying on Barker to bring new life to the transit community in Atlanta.