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Gillem Logistics Center is among first to test drive the on-demand rideshare service from MARTA, Georgia Tech

For many metro Atlantans, getting to or from a bus stop or transit station can be challenging, especially if you do not live or work immediately near one. A new collaboration from MARTA and Georgia Tech is tackling this problem head-on with an innovative solution that puts destinations within close reach of transit riders.

On March 1, MARTA and Georgia Tech launched a six-month pilot of MARTA Reach, an on-demand ridesharing service designed to close the first-and-last mile transportation gap for transit riders. As part of the pilot, the project focuses on three zones representing different ridership needs: distribution hub Gillem Logistics Center, mixed-use community Belvedere and residential neighborhood West Atlanta. In each zone, the pilot will test how on-demand shuttles can expand the MARTA system’s reach. The goal is simple: Make transit an easier and faster option for metro Atlantans through a mobile app where they can request a ride. The aim is to reduce commuting times and walking distances between destinations.

How Commuting Data Paved the Way for MARTA to Expand Its Reach at Gillem Logistics Center

As one of three service zones for the pilot’s rollout, Gillem Logistics Center provides a unique testing ground for the Reach pilot. It has a sprawling 1,168-acre campus located at the site of the former Fort Gillem Army Base in Forest Park, Ga. The campus is served by four MARTA bus routes that connect to residential areas across Clayton County. It is also home to big brands, including The Kroger Company, HD Supply, Cummins Inc, XPO Logistics, Kuehne & Nagel and more new facilities coming online in the next few years.

For many logistic center workers, transit is the most viable option for getting to campus, despite having to complete a 1.5 to 2-mile walk along busy roadways after riding the bus. Frances Jackson—Director of Property Management for Gillem Logistics Center (Robinson Weeks)—observed these commuting challenges firsthand. She decided to talk with Georgia Commute Options Worksite Advisor Nick Anderson to explore strategies that would resolve commuting challenges for the logistic center’s workers.

Gillem Logistics Center

As a first step, Anderson conducted a sitewide survey of employees to evaluate connectivity challenges and solutions on the campus. “The results of the survey were clear,” Anderson explains. “A significant number of employees who took transit to work were spending more than an hour on their commute. And there was strong interest in first-and-last mile options like a shuttle.”

With this data in hand, Jackson and Anderson soon began conversations with the city of Forest Park’s Mayor Angelyne Butler as well as leaders from MARTA to explore solutions to bridge this commuting gap. They shared the commuting data with the group, and well, the rest was history: MARTA decided to bring the Reach pilot to Gillem Logistics Center. 

Now that the service is underway, Georgia Commute Options is working with Gillem Logistics Center employers to support transit riders. “We want to make sure Gillem Logistics Center workers can take full advantage of the service during this initial pilot phase,” says Anderson. “Their participation in the pilot can lead to even more service improvements that make taking transit to work so much easier.”

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