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“There is no downside to using transit,” says long-term Commuter Champion

We love our rock star transit commuters! Martin Chen became a Commuter Champion back in 2012 and is still taking transit like a boss.

When you take transit, you can delegate the driving to someone else and use your commute for some valuable me-time! Plus, you’re doing your part to take cars off the road and ease traffic congestion for everyone.

Read Martin’s story and consider how transit could improve your daily commute!

When did you decide to ride transit to and from work for the first time, and why?

From the very beginning when I came back to Atlanta after college.

Name the top five best things about riding transit to and from work.

Avoiding traffic, being able to do something else other than driving, predictability, mental health, and people watching.

How far do you live from the nearest train station or bus stop?

We chose our house to ensure that we were close to a MARTA rail station and on the bus route. I live less than .25 miles from a bus stop and within 3 miles of two train stations.

If you have children, has the possibility of emergencies influenced your decision to ride transit to and from work?

I have three children. All three are in a daycare that we chose because it was close to the MARTA rail line so that I would not need a car.

How often do you worry about the weather as a transit rider?

I can go door-to-door without ever being exposed to precipitation. On the elevated platforms at most stations, however, you are buffeted by the cold winds. On those extreme days, I just drive to another station that is not exposed to the elements, like Sandy Springs station.

Does riding transit really get you to and from work faster?

Not always, but I don't want to drive in traffic.

Are there five rules you wish all transit commuters should follow, if so, what are they?

No food or drinks, no music without earbuds, no occupying seats with luggage and bags during peak period, no proselytizing, and no panhandling.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in riding transit to and from work for the first time?

There is no downside to using transit.

Ready to give transit a try? You could earn cash and prizes for it! Let us help you get started and while you’re here, check out our new Live Chat for assistance!



We like to bring you stories of commuters just like you who are loving their non-drive-alone commutes! Check out how Carolyn’s bus rides have changed her commute for the better.

My first transit ride was December 2010. I wanted to try it out during a slow period; the week prior to Christmas. I then went to Wednesdays and Fridays after my 5 a.m. workouts. I then realized how much I enjoyed the naps, mental rest from riding MARTA and not driving , and mostly the quiet of the bus! I’ve been a constant rider since. 

I drive a lot in and around town as well as out of town, so it’s nice to be able to sit back, relax and leave the driving to someone else – even for 45-60 minutes. Plus, I like the relationships I’ve built with the other commuters and the drivers. I’ve also limited the miles on my 2008 Honda Accord!

Ready to see if a clean commute like transit is right for you? We can help you pick a new commute mode that saves money, reduces stress and could even earn you some extra cash! 



Gentle Alexander, an Atlanta massage therapist and student, has been riding buses since he was 12 years old. A California native, he started navigating metro Atlanta’s bus system 5 years ago as soon as he relocated to metro Atlanta.

“The buses here weren’t what I was used to, but I figured out a way to make it work,” he says.

Now, CCT buses are Gentle’s primary mode of transportation, and he says the past 5 years have brought a lot of improvements to Cobb’s buses: more leg room, tinted windows, and blasting A/C—a special perk when commuting in the Georgia heat.

“Also, the new Cobb buses are shipped from California, so it makes me feel like I’m home.”

Gentle likes to stay calm, cool, and collected, and riding the bus helps. By riding the bus, he’s able to live without a car, which means he keeps his cost of living low.

For Gentle, taking the bus means putting the worry of the road in someone else’s hands. “I don’t have what other people have but I’m happy and enjoying it.”

What could taking transit do for your stress level? We’d like to help you find out. Check out the various transit options that may work for you. And if you need help planning your trip, we’re here for you. 



Georgia Commute Honors 

8:43  Lights down, Erin Coleman up—here we go, folks! 

8:45  They’re going to give awards in five categories: Ride and Shine for outstanding schools, Rising Stars for our up-and-coming partners, Georgia DOT Leadership Award for outstanding employer representatives, Road Warriors for outstanding individual commuters, and the Best Overall Programs for outstanding employers and property managers.

8:46   Here comes GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry, for the intro.

8:49   Fun fact: Georgia Commute Options has helped more than 1,600 employers and property managers and more than 100,000 commuters switch to better commutes. Another fun fact:  Every day, Georgia Commute Options partners and commuters keep a collective 1.1 million vehicle miles off the roads, save a combined $500,000 in commuter costs, and keep 550 tons of pollution out of the air. 

8:52   Governor Deal beamed in to congratulate all of today’s winners and nominees via the big screen. Nice!

8:54   Next up: Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, to give opening remarks.

8:55   "We have to find ways innovate if we want to remain competitive" Doug Hooker, Executive Director of the Atlanta Regional Commission

8:59   OK folks, it’s trophy time. Here comes Keith Parker, everyone’s favorite MARTA CEO, to present the first category:  Rising Star.  This is for partners that are new to the Georgia Commute Options game but are showing a lot of early promise. Two awards in this category: Employer and Partner Champion.

9:00   FUN FACT: Businesses that partner with Georgia Commute Options can take advantage of employee ridematching, help building a telework plan, pre-tax benefits for commute costs, cash & prizes for your alternative-commuting employees, and more! Learn more here

9:01   First up: Rising Star Employer. Winner: Citizens Trust Bank!

9:02   Citizens Trust Bank, nominated by Central Atlanta Progress, used their recent office move as a springboard to promote alternative commutes to their employees. Since launching their program last year, they’ve converted 15% of their drive-alone commute to alternative commutes. Off to a killer start! Congrats, Citizens Trust Bank!

9:04   Next up: Rising Star Partner Champion. (This one goes to an individual, not a company. Someone who’s been a great point-of-contact for his/her company’s Georgia Commute Options partnership.) 

9:05   Winner: Jerry Travers of Bank of America!

9:06   Jerry has taken a personal interest in spreading Georgia Commute Options programs to Bank of America

employees. He has ensured that Georgia Commute Options has the support it needs to succeed within Bank of America’s office culture. We’re looking forward to seeing what comes next for Jerry and Bank of America. Congrats, Jerry Travers!

9:08   Here comes GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry to present the Georgia DOT Leadership Award. This one’s for an outstanding individual at one of our partner companies.

9:09   And it looks like we’ve got two winners for this award:  Renee Carter of Primerica, and Willie Taylor of U.S. Housing and Urban Development! 

9:10   Renee Carter is Georgia Commute Options contact at Primerica and leads a very enthusiastic program. From helping arrange tabling events to organizing commute competitions between office floors, she has really taken on the task of cleaning up Primerica’s commutes. Congrats, Renee Carter!

9:10   Willie Taylor leads HUD’s partnership with Georgia Commute Options, and under his leadership, his workplace won Best Overall Program at last year’s Georgia Commute Honors. Not only does he promote clean commuting, he’s a regular clean commuter himself. Congrats, Willie Taylor!

9:11   Next up: Chris Tomlinson, Executive Director of both the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority, to present our Ride and Shine Schools Award!

9:11   FUN FACT: Schools that partner with Georgia Commute Options can get help shortening the car-rider line while also participating in contests, activities and our original project-based learning curriculum!

9:12   Three categories in the Ride and Shine Schools Award. First up: Administration.  Winner: KIPP Atlanta Collegiate! 

9:13   Instead of providing school buses, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate provides 300 free or reduced-price MARTA passes to their students each week. Not only does this get students riding transit, but eliminating an idling bus fleet has also ensured cleaner air on school grounds.

9:13   Congrats, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate!

9:14   Next up:  Teacher/PTA Award. Winner: Imhotep Academy!

9:14   Imhotep Academy reached out to Georgia Commute Options about setting up a carpool program for its students—and ended up being the pilot school for our new Pool to School online ridematcher.  Congrats, Imhotep!

9:15   Final Ride and Shine award: Students.  

9:16   Two winners in this category:  Pope High School and Craig Elementary School!

9:16   Pope High School’s Environmental Science Class took advantage of Georgia Commute Options’ original project-based curriculum to learn about transportation. Students then presented their projects to folks from the Atlanta Regional Commission and Georgia Commute Options.

9:16   Craig Elementary School’s green team took on clean commuting in a big way when they dispatched to do a week’s worth of mode counts, school-wide. They’re now planning to a school-wide clean commute campaign to follow it up.

9:17   Congrats to Pope and Craig! 

9:18   Big moment:  Chris Tomlinson just announced that Clayton County Public Schools are partnering with Georgia Commute Options for the 2016-17 school year — and they’re the first district ever to do it!  Clayton becomes the second school district in the whole country to adopt a district-wide TDM program. Big news for Clayton County, and for us!

9:18   Next award: Road Warriors, our award for rock star individual commuters. Presenting the award: Becky Katz, Chief Bicycle Officer for the City of Atlanta.

9:19   Three winners in this category: Adam Shumaker, Daniel Harris, and Mike Jacobs.

9:20   You’ve seen Adam Shumaker’s work if you follow @marta_explorer on Instagram. He runs the MARTA Instagram feed and helped grow it organically to 2,000 followers. A long-time transit advocate, Adam even got married on MARTA! Congrats to Adam.

9:21   Dan Harris is an avid bike commuter nominated by Perimeter Connects. His regular five-mile bike commute accounts for his workplace, Verizon, having won the Atlanta Bike Challenge two years running. He also orchestrated a “Try-a-Bike” day at his office, arranging for loaned bikes and instructors from REI to school his colleagues in bike safety—with 100 riders participating! That’s a pollution-free fleet we can get behind. Congrats, Dan!

9:21   Judge Mike Jacobs takes MARTA every day from his home in Brookhaven to the Dekalb County State Court in Decatur—but this is old news to you if you follow @JudgeJacobs on Twitter. Judge Jacobs sends out regular MARTA selfies to his 1,177 Twitter followers. We’re loving the public display of transit affection. Congrats, Judge Mike Jacobs!

9:23   Final award of the day: Best Overall Program. This award recognizes workplaces that have implemented outstanding commute options programs for their employees and tenants. Five categories in this one: Small Employer, Medium Employer, Large Employer, Government Agency and Property Manager.

9:23   Small Employer winner: Georgia Natural Gas

9:24   Nominated by Midtown Transportation, Georgia Natural Gas contributes toward 50% of employee transit passes and has a robust telework program. 40% of staff telework at least once per week. Congrats, Georgia Natural Gas!

9:25   Medium Employer Winner: RentPath

9:26   RentPath worked with Livable Buckhead to promote commute options when it moved its office to the Buckhead area. It offers its employees a parking cash out pre-tax payroll deductions for transit. Nice work, RentPath! 

9:29   Large Employer winner: Primerica

9:29   In 2015 alone, Primerica’s Georgia Commute Options activities reduced 11,170 trips by employees—adding up to 280,233 miles not driven. Commute options saved those employees over $135,676. Those are some impressive numbers. Congrats, Primerica!

9:30   Government Agency winner: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

9:31   The CDC has made alternative commuting a priority to tackle traffic and parking issues for its 11,332 employees. It has over 5,000 regular teleworkers, 46 vanpools, 450 carpools and 100 bike racks. Not too shabby! Congrats, CDC.

9:32   Property Manager winner: Jamestown at Ponce City Market

9:34   Nominated by Midtown Transportation, Jamestown’s shuttles to nearby MARTA stations transport 6,500 tenants per month. In addition, they constructed a bridge to connect their property with the nearby Eastside BeltLine trail, promoting bike and walk accessibility to their property. Nice work, Jamestown!

9:36   And that was the last award of the day!  Commissioner Russell McMurry is back to give us the sign-off.

9:38   Thanks for following along with us—that’s a wrap on the 2016 Georgia Commute Honors. See you all next year!



Are You Wasting $68,000 on Gas?

We’ve been saying it for years, folks: you could be saving tons of money if you switched from driving alone to a commute alternative.  And now, to back us up, the folks at WiseBread have done some commute math:

Let's assume you're an average person driving that average 38 miles to and from work each day. And let's also assume you're paying an average amount for gas, which is currently about $2 per gallon. If you drive a car that gets 30 miles per gallon, you're spending about $2.50 a day on gas, or about $12.50 a week. Assuming you may take a couple weeks off throughout the year from driving, this adds up to $625 annually.

And if you think $625 isn’t that impressive, click through to see how WiseBread claims you could turn it into $281,000 over a lifetime of commuting. That number’s nothing to sneeze at.

Clean commuting: It’s where the big bucks are!

 

Transportation, commute options, transit

  How 10 U.S. Cities Use Public Transit

More than a fifth of U.S. city-dwellers use public transit on a regular basis, according to a recent Pew Research survey.

Huge shocker: New York City boasts the most transit riders. Some of the other rankings, however, are surprising—like Los Angeles coming in second place

Click through to learn more about the study—and don’t forget, taking transit here in metro Atlanta can earn you cash and prizes from Georgia Commute Options. Learn how you can get up to $150 when you switch to transit from driving alone.

 

Five myths about bicycling

Now that we’re enjoying prime cycling weather (especially since the pollen is on its way out), people are pedaling their hearts out. But according to the News & Observer, there are still a lot of misconceptions about getting around on two wheels—related to everything from helmet use to average cyclist income.

Click through for a list of 5 Bike Myths out there, and let us know if you agree!

If you’re a regular bike commuter, you could win $50 in our Earth Week #cleangreencommute social media challenge. Learn more here



Carpool Karaoke on the Way to World Domination

By now, you may have heard of J-Lo’s epic turn on James Corden’s hilarious recurring Carpool Karaoke bit.  Why do we love Carpool Karaoke so much?

The AV Club has theories about it tapping into the music industry’s success on YouTube in general, and points to James Corden’s comic talent in interacting with his passengers. And sure, we’ll hand it to them. That sounds smart.

But we have another theory. We think people love Carpool Karaoke so much because, deep down, they’d rather be carpooling themselves. We all long to stage karaoke bouts of our very own—maybe on a daily basis, on the ride to work.

And Georgia Commute Options is here to tell you that dreams do come true. You can find a carpool partner right on our home page! Just go to GaCommuteOptions.com and click “Find a Ridematch” to get matched with dozens of potential carpool karaoke buddies near where you live and work. Get matched (and start singing) today!

 

Pedaling Towards Happiness: 7 Mental Health Benefits of Riding Bikes

It’s no secret that biking to work gets you more active, which is part of a healthier life. Plus, it’s a pollution-free commute, which makes for healthier air.

And if those weren’t enough, here’s a new benefit of biking to work: improved mental health.

This list points out that a non-competitive physical activity (like biking for errands and the commute) improves our subjective mood.

Physical activity is also tied to reduced stress, anxiety and depression. And exercising outdoors (hint, hint) boosts those levels even higher.

And yes, all the above benefits can come from lots of different physical activities. But here’s the kicker: Cycling is the one activity that gets you off the Downtown Connector at rush hour. Can’t argue with that.

Click the link for the full list—and if you’re ready to switch to cycling on your commute, see what cash and prizes you can earn from Georgia Commute Options here

 

By Bike or by Bus, Buford Highway Can Be a Wild, Tasty Ride

Buford Highway is everyone’s favorite haven of authentic international food. But if it’s your first time out, the prospect can be a bit overwhelming. Where’s the best place to start, and what’s the best way to navigate the seven-lane, traffic-laden highway?

Lucky for us, We Love BuHi is willing to take the lead. Known for their periodic Bikes and Bites rides along the 8-mile stretch, We Love BuHi is now rumored to be organizing a bus food crawl through the same neighborhood. If you’re cycling-averse (we forgive you) and still want to sample BuHi’s best, this could be your ticket.

And hey—if you’re new to transit, this might be the perfect chance to get the feel for bus riding in general. Maybe you could even work it into your daily commute. You know, there are Georgia Commute Options prizes in it for you if you do. 



MARTA Army Taking Aim at Chamblee

MARTA Army, a grassroots organization focused on boosting MARTA ridership, is making strides in Chamblee. Most of MARTA Army’s work focuses on the “adopt a bus stop” initiative which assigns bus stops to individual commuters and makes them responsible for posting valuable route and timetable information. But the Army has begun expanding its work by working with Chamblee officials to set up crowd-funding for transit amenities—namely, bus stop benches.

Find out how riding transit can earn you rewards here.

Singing Trees Coming to Your Commute

Do you use the Atlanta BeltLine to commute by bike or foot? If so, you could soon catch a glimpse of the “If Trees Could Sing” project, coordinated by the Nature Conservancy and Trees Atlanta.

The project outfits trees along the path with signs bearing info and a QR code. Scan the code with your smartphone, and you’ll get a little testimonial from a popular musician.

“I am happy to capture the interest of Atlanta BeltLine enthusiasts with the importance of forest conservation in such a creative way,” said Deron Davis, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.

And don’t forget, you walk-and-bike commuters could earn cash and prizes from Georgia Commute Options. Learn more here.

MARTA Board Chair Discusses How to Fund New Projects

So, the bill allowing voters to approve funds for a MARTA expansion in Atlanta and Fulton County cleared the General Assembly last week. Now what?

According to MARTA Board Chair Robbie Ashe, the next task is making the case for voters.

Step one: Develop a project list that can be made public by May 31.

Step two: Get the word out. “I am sure the fall will be full of community meetings,” Ashe said. “Public opinion surveys tell us Atlantans want more transit, and they want it now. That’s why what happened at the General Assembly is such a powerful thing, because this give us the opportunity to deliver it to them.”

Why do we love this news? Because MARTA expansion means more chances for metro Atlanta commuters to take transit and get cars off the road! (You know, you don’t even have to wait if you don’t want to. Switch to transit and we’ll give you $5 a day for giving it a try. Learn more here.)



Most of us spend at least 30 minutes on the road to work. What can you do to pass the time? Here are ten suggestions:

  1. Read
  2. Text
  3. Tweet
  4. Eat
  5. Make a grocery list
  6. Sleep
  7. Work
  8. Learn a new language
  9. Candy Crush
  10. Car yoga

Those are just ten ideas. But you know what doesn’t have to be on the list? Driving.

Sharing the ride takes your hands off the wheel and frees up your time for anything else you’d like to do. You could spend those 30 minutes staring at brake lights ahead, or you could turn it into free time instead. Ready to get a ride buddy and get your life back? Find one here.

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. You can get in touch with Lesley here.



Think cycling’s not catching on in Atlanta? Think again! From 2000 to 2012, Metro Atlanta saw a 166% increase in bicycle commutes.

But being a bike commuter doesn’t always mean biking exclusively. Many pedal-powered commuters combine biking with transit or carpooling to make up a multi-modal power commute. If riding your bike all the way into work seems like too much of a haul, have no fear — supplementing your bike commute with carpooling or using MARTA, CCT, Xpress, or Gwinnett County Transit can help you get the most out of Metro Atlanta’s roads — and get you where you’re going safely and efficiently. And biking at least the first or last couple of miles to work is something just about everyone can do. By combining your commute, you can cut down car expenses, reduce air pollution and congestion, and have a healthier trip.

If you take your bike on transit, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Avoid boarding MARTA trains that are full with your bike in hand. The very front and very back of the train are good places to look for an uncrowded car.
  • On CCT, Xpress, MARTA and Gwinnett County Transit, buses are outfitted with bike racks up front that are easy to access (bike are not allowed inside buses).
  • Each bus can only handle two bicycles at one time — first come, first served.
  • Watch this video to see how to load your bike on a bus— it’s easy!

And if you’re combining cycling and carpooling, remember these helpful pointers:

  • If you’re meeting up with your carpool partner, invest in a foldable bike rack they can keep in their car.
  • Georgia Commute Options can assist with finding the perfect carpool partner for your lifestyle — fellow cyclist or otherwise.
  • Check your route and the weather ahead of time. It can save time and is courteous to your carpool partner who might be waiting.

If you’re looking for a great motivator to get you started, the Atlanta Bike Challenge is the perfect opportunity! Ride your bike to the store, around the neighborhood, or on your lunch break to build up to riding to work. Sign up and learn more at ATLBikeChallenge.com!

Lee has been working on Georgia Commute Options programs for three years and manages the outreach team. She has an almost-one-year-old so she can relate to the issues metro Atlantans run into with clean commuting and child care. Originally from Mississippi, Lee brings southern and sassy charm to our team. To connect with Lee, email her at LeeW@GaCommuteOptions.com.



I’m Baaack! I ride transit because it makes CENTS for me and can even be relaxing. Plus, I get to pocket the savings for my favorite hobbies – eating, traveling and clearance shopping (did someone say shoes?)! I even have curb service right in my neighborhood for those days I want to stay parked.  

You can find me on the MARTA line in my “cutie off-duty shoes,” as my colleague calls them, listening to music, reading, or daydreaming about my next splurge from my savings.

So, what is the big deal with having a calendar monthly or 30-day unlimited ride MARTA pass? Well let me tell you. I get to eat, work, and play all on MARTA. Just to show you, I chronicled my ventures, excluding my daily commute to the office, on MARTA for a month:

  • April 8: Business dinner with colleague
  • April 9: Stand Up 4 Transportation Rally at MARTA Five Points Station
  • April 10: Car left at Firestone (Lenox) for repair; take train to work
  • April 11:Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park
  • April 13: Commuter Event in Midtown
  • April 17:University Earth Day in Midtown
  • April 22: Lunch with colleagues in Midtown
  • April 28: Social outing in City of Decatur
  • April 29: Georgia Commute Options Commute Honors awards breakfast in Downtown Atlanta
  • May 1: Doc appointment at Emory
  • May 3: Atlanta Women’s Expo at Georgia World Congress Center
  • May 6: Business meeting at Starbucks in Buckhead
  • May 7: Quick run to the post office at Buckhead Loop
  • May 8: Business lunch in Midtown

What Next:

Try it! Remember to check the MARTA On the Go App for schedules and the electronic information signs in the rail stations to make sure you don’t get left behind. 

In the words of my favorite scholar, Dr. Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go… you can steer yourself any direction you choose.”  

Tanya is marketing lead for MARTA’s Partnership Program assisting metro Atlanta companies with transit commuting solutions. She is a 14-year MARTA rider and advocate. To learn how your company can offer MARTA passes visit: itsmarta.com/employer. Read her first blog article here: Confessions of a Reformed Car-holic!



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