MARTA Army Works To Improve Atlanta Transit
Imagine a public transit system having its own army. Atlanta’s MARTA does. The two-month old MARTA Army is a group of volunteers working to make mass transit more personal. Founded in September by a group of Georgia Tech graduates and students, several of the group’s leaders grew up in major cities with high-functioning bus and subway systems.
The Army’s first “operation” is called “Adopt-A-Stop.” Volunteers sign up to become MARTA Army “soldiers” who are the boots-on-the-ground working to improve riders’ experience. At a recent recruitment meeting at Georgia Tech, 26 year-old civil engineering doctoral student Simon Berrebi tells a dozen attendees to pull out their smartphones to locate their bus stops on a map.
Once Berrebi registers the volunteer, co-founder 34 year-old Binh Dam prints and laminates a large bus schedule and route map. It’s the adopter’s job to post the sign on the bus stop pole. “Adopt-A-Stop is just one way the MARTA Army fulfills its mission – to make riding MARTA as user-friendly as possible,” Dam said.
Both Berrebi and Dam grew up in Paris, but say many in the MARTA Army are native Atlantans who want a better public transit system. Avhilasha Saroj, a 25 year old transportation engineering student from India, described how she became a soldier in the MARTA Army
“When I was searching as an international student for a place to reside I was really happy to see a bus stop near my home that I thought will give me a lot of accessibility. I want to do something for it,” Saroj said.