MARTA as Mobility Method AND Metaphor: 5-14-12 Board Mtg Public Comment

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, distinguished Board Members, Dr. Scott, other dedicated MARTA staff, fellow concerned MARTA stakeholders.  My name is Julie Borders and I am a 2nd, really 3rd generation public transit rider and advocate.  I say 3rd gen because my grandfather, Rev. Wm. H. Borders, Sr., fought for desegregation of Atlanta’s street cars even before MARTA was a twinkle in the City’s eye.

In the last two years of his life, my physician father, Dr. Wm. Borders, Jr. was a para-transit rider, making his way to life-sustaining dialysis 3 days per week. He passed away in Sept.  2010.  I carry his memory with me, wearing his black & white silk pocket square almost daily.
For the approx. 2 years, I’ve been car-free and using MARTA as my primary mode of transportation.  I currently work for airport concessions company The Paradies Shops (TPS) @ Hartsfield-Jackson Int’l, in its Brighton Collectibles store.   TPS generously provides me w/a MARTA monthly pass as part of its benefits package.  So you see I have multi-generational love, respect and appreciation for MARTA.  In fact, I consider MARTA an essential fabric of my life. Cotton ain’t got nothing on MARTA!

I’m here to speak with you today because I see this MARTA fabric becoming more tattered, torn and worn every day, even as you contemplate increasing fares while reducing service because of budget constraints. To use a more shocking analogy, one related to my father’s unfortunate bi-lateral amputee condition, for me, it’s as if we’re well beyond cutting to the bone and are now cutting off limbs, and wondering why we’re bleeding. But how could we not be?  We cannot just cut our way to wellness and prosperity.

I had the misfortune this weekend of spending the night in the W. End Citi-Center Kroger because the last #71 bus didn’t run. I was unable to find friend, acquaintance or even cab to ferry me home. I was notified by another disappointed patron that no bus was coming as I stood at a bus stop near Culberson and Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. This experience was ANOTHER rude awakening to how unreliable the system is becoming due to funding issues.  If we continue w/business-as-usual, hacking like Freddie Kruger, prospects are looking pretty dim.

I would submit that business-as-usual is the last thing we need at this critical point in MARTA’s history.  Instead, we must use out-of-the-box thinking, sensible risk-taking and pragmatic, creative, inclusive problem-solving.  I stand before you now ready, willing and able to add my best positive energy, thoughts, actions and HEART to mending MARTA.

I’ve submitted some simple, low-cost social media-enabled suggestions for engaging riders in improving MARTA safety, but they seem to be falling on deaf ears.  Seems I get push-back accompanied by vague, off-putting explanations/excuses at every turn.  But I am undaunted cuz THIS IS MY MARTA and she’s like my Mama driving carpool. I know she can do better, even w/the budget constraints she faces day in and day out.

I love this MARTA fabric, and I refuse to let her go.  I know she has untold greatness in her; she’s
a world-class transit system in waiting.   I promise to work long and hard for her sake, until my hands are bleeding and/or arthritic, if necessary.  That’s my word to you.
But I need your help. We need open honest discussion. We need willingness, even courage, to change and seek unconventional solutions.  I trust that you’re willing to play seamstress, no better still, tailor with me, not really mending OR ending OUR MARTA but TRANSFORMING her.  I hearken back to our resourceful slave ancestors who created underground railroad-directing quilts with the castoff fabric scraps from their masters’ homes. Won’t you stand on their shoulders with me and make MARTA all she can be??

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1 Comment

  1. J Russell said,

    March 25, 2016 at 7:49 am

    I too got trapped at the west end citi center after taking a bus at 11:30 pm and was rudely awakened to find the bus schedule after that time varied from the Marta schedule and completely ended by midnight. This was aggrevating and inconvenient yet I dealt.
    Otherwise I have found being a car-free Atlanta resident who uses public transit as my primary form of transportation workable though a much slower means of moving around the city.
    Such as life…it does reason that one who appropriates $300 plus per month to car payment, vehicle insurance and maintenance would reap the benefit of a swifter means of travel.
    Oh well?
    Otherwise, I close with the assertion that I shutter to imagine Atlanta without the ever-cost cutting Marta.


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