Free services to help improve how you get to and from work.

Atlanta's newest transportation choice is open for business, and it brings new and exciting commute options to the table. The Atlanta Streetcar runs a 2.7 mile loop from the King Historic District to Centennial Olympic Park. With twelve stops, including a platform right outside the Peachtree Center MARTA Station, the Atlanta Streetcar makes even more of downtown accessible by transit. Plus, the streetcars allow bicycles on board, so going multimodal is even easier!

The big, beautiful, blue cars each hold up to 200 people, which means less traffic congestion downtown! So jump on the system and take a streetcar to your next destination. The office buildings in the Peachtree corridor, Phillips Arena, the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and more are all within walking distance of the alignment. And, during the first three months, the system is totally free!

See more route information and helpful fare info here.

Save money, discover Downtown, and ride Atlanta's newest transit system.

Shayna Pollock is the Project Manager for Transportation and Sustainability at Central Atlanta Progress. She commutes from Reynoldstown to Downtown on her loyal bicycle, affectionately called "the minivan" for its basket capacity. In her free time, she can be found doing yoga, reading, or baking. 



It is really easy to say on December 31st that you are going to go to the gym five days a week or only eat sweets on the weekends, but it’s not always that easy to do. I am the worst at holding myself accountable to something for a month, let alone 365 days a year. This year I am making a resolution that I know I can keep and I have this blog post to keep me honest:

I will use a commute alternative to work 20% of the year.
 
(Since I usually work 5 days a week, that means I’m taking an alternative commute 1 day a week.)

Trying commute alternatives does not mean you have to give up your car and your freedom forever. It is about making small changes that will ultimately make a huge impact. I drive 62 miles round trip to work, or 310 miles each week. Think about the impact I can make on air quality by removing 62 miles from Georgia roadways every week. I even calculated it below using My Commute Impact Report from my commuter profile at GaCommuteOptions.com. The cost savings is amazing. We could use that money to pay off my husband’s truck or put it aside in a savings account for our kid’s college fund.

 

Per Week

Per Year (50 weeks/year)

Round Trip Miles

62

3100

Pounds of Pollution

50.0549

2502.745

Cost Savings

$32.09

$1604.50

Now I need to decide which alternatives make the most sense for me. Luckily my employer supports telework. I have a great office space at home with high-speed internet and I could save a lot of time by not driving into work. But, I am also thinking about finding a carpool partner. Our office is in a multi-tenant office complex, and I bet the ridematching tool could help me. Once my profile is updated, I can set up email reminders to alert me whenever I have new matches in the system. I found six matches on my first try!

The thing is, switching up your commute doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal. Maybe you can’t completely replace driving alone with biking, taking transit or carpooling every single day. But what if it wasn’t every day? Could you possibly ride in with a coworker just on Fridays? Take transit on Tuesdays? Dust off that bike and ride it to work twice a month? (That one could also help you with that annual resolution to get fit!)

Think about how small changes could add up to big benefits for you in 2015—then, let us know how we can help.

Allie Velleca is the Georgia Commute Options Program Manager and also services some accounts in the I-75N corridor. When she is isn’t at work, she is teaching dance, paper crafting, or filming Snapchats of her two greyhounds, Charlie and Larry. If you are trying to find Allie at the Georgia Commute Options office, just look for the desk with Atomic Fireballs, washi tape, and a glowing reindeer.



Welcome 2015!  And welcome back to work and the daily grind.  Or is it?  Don’t let the post-holiday blues convince you it has to be last year’s old routine.  If you’re looking to shake things up in the New Year, why not start with how you get to work?  Resolutions don’t have to be just good intentions this year — they can become reality if you work them into your daily commute.

Our friends at USA.gov compiled a list of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions.  Not surprisingly, weight loss and plans to get fit are at the top of the list.  On one hand, you can purchase an expensive gym-bership and fight for your turn on an elliptical.  Or, you can slide on your sneakers and walk to work.  Or hop on your Huffy and cycle there!  Either way, you can easily get your cardio in, see the sights and help reduce traffic and pollution.

Maybe you’re no stranger to your fat burning zone.  Congrats; you’re already in tip-top shape.  But is your bank account?  If your finances are the part of your life you have resolved to work out this year, consider commute alternatives.  There’s lots of money to be saved by taking transit or joining a carpool or vanpool as opposed to driving alone.  Carpooling can save you $800 a year, and riding transit can save you almost $1,200 annually. Don’t forget, Georgia Commute Options has cash incentives like $3 A Day, $25 Prizes, and $40-$60 Gas Cards when you choose to switch up your commute. 

And still there are those that want to improve their mental fitness. By taking a carpool, vanpool or transit, you’ll have time to read, nap or get extra work done.  As a passenger, you’ll have the opportunity to reduce stress and invest your time in different interests.  You’ve got 99 problems, but your commute doesn’t have to be one. 

No matter your goal, Time.com wants you to remember that in order to successfully stick to your resolution, you should share your experience with others.  Not only does it hold you accountable, it encourages your friends and family to join in the fun.  Share your commute with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and reap the positive rewards!

Courtney is the Georgia Commute Options Administrative Assistant. You'll hear her friendly voice if you ever give us a call. She's a Pinterest and Netflix junkie, and loves baking and making lists. If you want to get in touch with Courtney, you can email her here.



For the past 30 years, PNC Wealth Management has put together a tongue-in-cheek price index of Christmas using the carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” We’ll take a look at the true cost of Christmas and how it compares to the cost of commuting.

The total cost of Christmas for 2014 is $27,673.21, which is 1% higher than 2013. The prices of each item are determined by different businesses specializing in each song item. For instance, a Philadelphia dance company provides the estimates for the salary of the nine “ladies dancing” and the price of a canary at Petco is used for the calling bird.

  • One Partridge in a Pear Tree: $207.68
  • Two Turtle Doves: $125.00
  • Three French Hens: $181.50, or $60.50 per hen. Instead of a hen, you could buy a 20-trip MARTA Breeze Card and still have money left over.
  • Four Calling Birds: $599.96
  • Five Golden Rings: $750.00, or about the amount you would save if you chose to carpool
  • Six Geese-a-Laying: $360.00
  • Seven Swans-a-Swimming: $7,000
  • Eight Maids-a-Milking: $58.00 – for this you could fill up an 11-gallon tank of gas twice, or drink a lot of milk
  • Nine Ladies Dancing: $7,552.84
  • Ten Lords-a-Leaping: $5,348.24
  • Eleven Pipers Piping: $2,635.20 – this is about how much it annually costs the average Metro Atlantan to drive alone to and from work each workday
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming: $2,854.80

You can check out how much your commute is costing you using our nifty Commute Calculator here. No matter what you spend on this holiday season, all of us at Georgia Commute Options wish you a happy one.

Jenny Schultz is a Communications Specialist working on the Georgia Commute Options program. When she's not at work, she spends most of her time baking, dancing, and pretending to paint her house. Jenny has a pretty sweet telework space complete with Ikea furniture, a stability ball, and a fantastic view of her backyard.



I've been carpooling for about eight years and my carpool buddy has a tender heart toward animals. One day we were driving to work; the sun was barely coming up and when I looked ahead, I noticed a goat in the middle of the road. My carpool buddy insisted on stopping to try to get the goat out of the road. When that failed she went knocking door to door trying to find the owner. The owner was found, but too busy trying to get his other animals back in his fence and had a hard time understand us.  He looked completely confused while we were pointing toward the road saying, "Bahhh, bahhh." We realized later we were probably making sheep noises, not goat noises.

Finally, my carpool buddy went back to the road, took off her belt, lightly hit the goat's behind, and miraculously, the goat got off the road. Late for work, I went and told my boss the story. He laughed and said that was the best excuse he ever heard and I would have a hard time topping that story.

You too can have your own adventures on a carpool. To learn how to get started and be rewarded with gas cards, click here.

Donna works at Oglethorpe Power Corporation as the Senior Executive Staff Assistant to the VP of Human Resources. Her carpool partner, Nina, is the Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO of Georgia Transmissions Corporation. They both live in Loganville and have been clean commuting for about eight years.



I don’t own a car. Break out the smelling salts!

Whenever I tell someone that I choose not to drive, the typical response is a what-are-you-smoking kind of look. Or, I hear something like, "I wish I could do that." For my family however, this choice makes the most sense. It suits our budget and we get lots of exercise from walking or cycling. For us, it’s a no-brainer.

We moved back to Atlanta in 2005 after four years in the northwest. While we lived in Washington State, my husband and I developed a routine of cycling, walking or taking transit wherever we went, whether it was the grocery store or to work. On the weekend, we would cycle four miles to the coffee shop to java-nate and play chess (I rarely won, but that’s another story). We were healthier and less stressed. It simply made sense for us to continue that lifestyle in Atlanta.

Our choice of where to live in the metro area had to be in line with ready access to basic amenities, including MARTA. For us, walking (or cycling) a mile or so to get to a train station or bus stop is not an issue. It’s simply what you do. Rain? It’s only water. Pack for it—carry an umbrella or raincoat, wear some rain boots, use a backpack. Too hot outside? Carry another shirt and change at work. Drink lots of water.

My husband cycles to the DeKalb Farmers Market every week, as well as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. He has panniers on the back of his bicycle, as well as a Burley Travoy bike trailer to carry heavier items such as a five pound bag of potatoes, or bottled water. He has perfected the art of squeezing a basket full of groceries into both panniers. People sometimes stop to watch because they don’t believe he can do it.

I commute to Buckhead from Edgewood every weekday. It’s a one-mile trek from home to the station, then west and north on the train. I always have a plan B or C in case there are delays. For example, if the train westbound from Edgewood Candler Park station is delayed, do I take the number 102 bus instead? Or walk to Inman Park station to catch the number 6 bus to Lindbergh? Also, in 2012, I used to ride my bicycle seven miles a day as part of my work commute. I will be getting back into that soon.

What about other things like parties, movies or concerts, you may ask? Transit, Netflix, carpool! There’s always a way, if you’re willing to make it happen.
 
It’s all in the choices we make. I am healthier, less stressed, with time to read or complete a Sudoku puzzle – the evil ones, or course! And My 56 year old husband doesn’t look a day over 40.

Jo-Anne Carlson has worked at the Buckhead CID for over seven years. Added to that, she is a lover of art (and crafts) in all forms, including painting, music, knitting/crocheting, and writing. She lives in Atlanta, GA in the Edgewood neighborhood. Check out her personal website at: http://www.expressionsbyjo.com.



Ever been stuck in traffic? Of course you have. Ever been stuck in traffic in front of that donut shop that you pass by every day and then must convince yourself not to pull in and order a dozen to take home?

After a long work day, all you want to do is go home and relax, right? Well, traffic congestion quickly puts a damper on your plans. Stuck in a gridlock, tired of changing the radio station, it’s hard not to notice a tasty looking burger sign on your right. Suddenly you realize you are hungry. You decide to grab a quick bite to eat while traffic dies down. “Only this one time,” you tell yourself. Better than sitting in the car, or yelling at the person who cut you off in traffic.

Yet traffic is not a one-day scenario, and that restaurant will keep luring you in. It is time to find a solution. Find a carpool buddy or a wingman to talk you out of ordering that large pizza with an order of fries. Or try transit, because even the richest piece of cake cannot slow that train from getting you home.

The benefits to alternative commute methods are endless — from reduced traffic, to cleaner air, to even a healthier diet. Why not improve not only your environment, but also yourself?

Clara is the Administrative Coordinator for Georgia Commute Options. Clara enjoys film, reading and writing, and cute animals. When not looking at funny cat memes (or taking pictures of her own cat), she can be found at Piedmont Park, either playing recreational volleyball or simply enjoying the outdoors. 



Last week, we heard Part One of John Bayalis's story (read it here) about how his life changed once he started riding MARTA. John has been living in Atlanta for about 20 years and his first 10 were spent refusing to ride MARTA. Read on for Part Two of his story.

Upon taking the plunge, I immediately noticed the following in rapid succession:

  • I was no longer dependent on my car.
  • I went from filling my tank up (14 gallons for a 1999 Honda Accord) four times a month to once, meaning I was no longer exclusively dependent on gasoline. The cost of a monthly MARTA pass was, at the time, about the same as one tank of gas, meaning I saved nearly $100 per month.
  • I was no longer dependent on planning my day around traffic patterns for leaving my office to run errands and/or get to and from work.
  • I was no longer having my day impacted by all those drivers that that had my blood boiling by the time I got to and from work.
  • My quality of life improved – I “became less intense” according to several people (and to all of them: I still don’t know what that means, but I’ll take your word for it).
  • I got work done on the train. I got work done on the bus. I read more than I had in 10 years.
  • I napped.
  • I learned about the city.
  • I learned how Atlanta can be walkable if you stop complaining, plan and use your legs for something other than getting in and out of your car.
  • I formed friendships and relationships with people at local businesses I frequented from across the system, giving life to parts of the city I never even knew existed. I welcomed the diversity of ridership.
  • I enjoyed talking to others and finding out what they thought of the system and how it could improve.
  • I began using mass transit in other cities when I would travel for work (which was extensive and for which I received constant ribbing from my fellow colleagues who also traveled). I would now never consider going to Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago or San Francisco again and renting a car or making my way by cab.
  • I felt empathy for the friends and colleagues who lacked the quality of life I now was able to take advantage of.
  • I figured out that the old stand-by that, “MARTA doesn’t go anywhere” is utter hogwash spoken mostly by people who have only ever – if ever at all – set foot on the system to go to the airport or a Braves game.
  • I learned firsthand that not only is it a safe system, MARTA has one of the lowest crime rates of any of the nine largest transit systems in the country – the worst, San Francisco’s BART, has a crime rate substantially higher than MARTA.
  • I discovered programs that reward people for using public transit like Georgia Commute Options.
  • And, finally, I learned of an obscure and oft overlooked “commuter benefit option” made available through my employer via federal law that allowed me to put money away every pay-period, pre-tax, into a transit account, making the already-lower cost of commuting by train even less costly.

Mostly, though, I learned that freeing yourself of the proscribed confines of the standard “cars = freedom” mantra so ingrained in American culture truly opens up the world and expands freedom, both within a person and to the outside world.

Life is, inevitably, about choices. Many of us ignore options that are available simply because we feel we have no choice and so remain anchored to unfounded assumptions and the voices of others who operate with limited vision and information. That is unfortunate because hard choices, life-changing choices, require a leap of faith and a suspension of long-held assumptions. I’m glad I had someone prod me to consider the options, and I am especially grateful to the 2006 version of me for listening.

Give mass transit a try. Expand your freedom.

John Bayalis has more than 10 years of experience in public affairs management, grassroots mobilization, issues advocacy and lobbying. He joined MARTA in April as Director of Government Relations after 5 years with international public relations firm Allison+Partners.



There used to be a game-show on television hosted by the late, great Dick Clark named $25,000 Pyramid. Contestants would be paired off with celebrities into teams of two and chose from a list of categories. The object of the game was for the one teammate to describe words that fit into a chosen category, and, based on those clues, for the other teammate to then correctly guess the words being described. For example, if the category was “Fruit” and the first word was lime, I might say to the guesser “small, roundish, sour, green”.

To win $25,000, the team making the final “winner’s circle” had to actually guess the categories words came from – so a little harder, but actually a lot more fun. I thought we could pretend as if we’re a team and we’ve just made the winner’s circle and we’re playing for $25K. I’ll provide some words, and you, my teammate, will have to correctly guess the category.

Here are my clues:

  • Congestion
  • Rude people
  • Life-threatening situations
  • Regular automobile maintenance required to avoid thousands of dollars in car repairs
  • Anger
  • Impatience
  • Thousands of hours in productive time wasted per year
  • Exhaustion
  • Gridlock
  • Excessive monthly motor-fuel costs
  • Chained to your car
  • Sitting at traffic signals for hours on end
  • No end in sight
  • Easily avoided by using mass transit

If you guessed “things associated with commuting by car in Atlanta,” or some derivation thereof, you and I would have just won $25,000! That’s right, you and I would each be $12,500 wealthier, but unfortunately, not wealthy enough to quit our day jobs or, more importantly, quit our commuting. Fortunately, there is an alternative to commuting by car for the sensible Atlantan…

I’ve lived in Atlanta for nearly 20 years, and for the first 10, I shared a relatively similar view to the many people I talk to now that refuse to use MARTA. The most common complaints are that it’s a limited system that “goes nowhere”, is a bad steward of public funds rife with service problems and crime and ultimately creates a bigger headache than Atlanta traffic does for daily commuters.

Then a funny thing happened. At the suggestion of my then-girlfriend/now-wife, I decided to look into this MARTA thing and see if all the anti-hype was accurate. At the time she lived near of the Edgewood-Candler Park Station, and I lived close to the Arts Center Station. “You’re always miserable at the end of the day when you drive over here and you always loathe driving back in the morning,” she would say at the time. “Why don’t you just take the train?” And despite pushing back initially for fear of the unknown, I decided that she was right and gave it a whirl.

Stay tuned for Part Two of John's blog in the coming days to see how trying out transit changed his life.

John Bayalis has more than 10 years of experience in public affairs management, grassroots mobilization, issues advocacy and lobbying. He joined MARTA in April as Director of Government Relations after 5 years with international public relations firm Allison+Partners.



I recently read a summary of a research study that concluded that walking even part of your commute could result in a happier you. As I read, I thought of my doctor who, at each of my visits to her office, would ask if I was walking more. She would always recite a long list of benefits for my walking as a part of a regular daily exercise routine. “Walking 10 to 20 minutes three of four times a week will make a world of difference in the way you feel!” she would always conclude. I’m sure that if she reads this article, she will include the benefit on her list at my next visit.

Being an advocate for green commutes and a “wannabe” good patient, I thought I would share the article and encourage you to join me and give it a try by adding a walk to your green commute.

So, what is a green commute? A green commute is almost any alternative to driving alone in your car to and from work. Typical green commutes include carpools, vanpools, riding transit, bicycling, telework, compressed work week, flexible work schedules and of course walking. Go ahead take a walk! Add walking to your green commute and let me know if it makes you a “happier You”!

If you are looking for ideas for how you can add a walk to your green commute, here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Carpool/Vanpool Drivers: Park the vehicle in the parking space farthest from the entry to your building. This will work for commuters working compressed work weeks and flex hours.
  • Carpool/Vanpool Riders: Get dropped off and picked up a block or two from your workplace
  • Transit Riders: Walk to the second or third closest bus stop 
  • Teleworkers: Take a break during your work day and take a 10 or 15 minute walk around your neighborhood. You can also get a nice walk in by walking your dog or go out and track down your cat!
  • Bicycle Riders: Umm, me? I would likely walk my bike instead of riding my bike up an incline. But of course you get a walking pass if you stay on your bike up those hills!
  • Walkers: Good for you! You’re already the Happy Commuter!

Got a story about your Happier Commute? Share it on on Georgia Commute Options Facebook page!

Jean is a passionate supporter of public transit and a compassionate advocate for commuters in general. Jean’s advocacy efforts for commuters is demonstrated in her current position as Outreach Manager with Georgia Commute Options which offers free services to help Georgia commute improve how they get to and from work. Her personal motto is: I have many interests however, one thing I will assure you, once I catch a vision, I will use every bit of my passion to bring it to being!