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With Just Two Months Under Its Belt, The On-Demand Microtransit Pilot Shows Promise

MARTA Reach—a six-month pilot ridesharing service that makes transit an easier and faster option for metro Atlantans—has broadened the scope of its rideshare pilot program to include Dixie Hills, Avondale Estates, and the cities of Alpharetta, Roswell, Forest Park, and Morrow. Businesses in those places can now share even more commuting options with their employees.

Traveling to and from a bus stop or transit station can be challenging if a commuter does not live or work near one, so MARTA and Georgia Tech have been in collaboration to test innovative ways to bridge this “first and last mile gap.”

MARTA and Georgia Tech launched the Reach pilot program in May 2022. As part of the initial service area, the on-demand service first hit the road in three communities. This first phase of the pilot included service to Gillem Logistics Center, the City of Forest Park’s major logistics and distribution hub.

In 2021, Gillem Logistics Center’s property management company collaborated with Georgia Commute Options to gather data on the commuting habits and needs of the Center’s employee-base. This data paved the way for MARTA to bring this service pilot to Gillem Logistics Center. With this most recent expansion, the pilot will now also cover the Cities of Forest Park and Morrow in addition to Fort Gillem, with new connections to Southlake Mall, Southern Regional Medical Center, and Clayton State University.

MARTA has also broadened the pilot to cover more of the metro region, including an 8.5-square mile area in North Fulton to test out connections from the Mansell Park & Ride to North Point Mall, Avalon District, and Georgia State’s Alpharetta campus. 

“We have seen significant interest and loyalty from the early riders of MARTA Reach,” said MARTA Chief Customer Experience Officer Rhonda Allen. “Most of our riders take many trips a day, connecting to grocery stores, schools and day care, social activities, and the broader MARTA system. We’re thrilled at the opportunity to expand the program to serve more riders in more parts of our region for the second half of the pilot.”

How MARTA Reach Works

MARTA Reach uses a downloadable app to order a shuttle ride in the same way other rideshares are initiated by app. Commuting data have driven the initial pilot program for Reach and continues to do so as the service expands.

Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck and Georgia Tech’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) team is providing the technology for the project.

Van Hentenryck noted that data provided through the app “will also allow us to improve our understanding of the sweet spots for MARTA Reach, and where it best complements the existing MARTA network. The first months of the pilot have been incredibly exciting, and the expansion will build on the great progress MARTA Reach has already accomplished.”

To order a ride download the MARTA Reach app from your smartphone’s mobile app store. The app will guide you to designated pick-up and drop-off stops near the beginning or end of your trip. If there’s not a stop where you’d like, you can request additional stop locations in the app.

MARTA Reach costs the same as a MARTA fare, $2.50. The service runs from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Since it’s a ridesharing service, other passengers may be picked up and dropped off during a trip.

Watch this video to learn more about how to access this service in your area.

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