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Atlanta snowpocalypse: Why some commutes were a nightmare, others normal

Standstill traffic on I-75/I-85 due to winter weather
Standstill traffic on I-75/I-85 due to winter weatherSara Cheshire

Two inches of snow fell in metro Atlanta on Jan. 28, 2014, stranding thousands of commuters for hours on slick roads after businesses and schools had early releases. Traffic backed up for miles late into the evening, accidents and stuck cars further adding to the delays. But it didn't have to be that way, and for some people, their commute ended up being surprisingly normal.

Why? Those commuters walked or rode transit. And while a small train fire initially caused delays in MARTA's rail service as the snow started falling, trains were consistently up and running all day while cars idled on the interstates.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of choosing a car-free commute. The repeated failure of Cobb and Gwinnett counties to support MARTA (and expansion) means revenue for the transit system only comes from Fulton and Dekalb counties. Combined with lack of state funding and lack of flexibility with revenue it does receive, MARTA is limited on where it can go and how frequently it can go there.

Certainly, though, if you don't normally take MARTA to work or school, but could, a winter storm watch or inclement weather would be a beneficial time to try an alternative commute. Free daily parking lots exist all over the city at MARTA stations if you aren't close enough to walk to rail or a bus stop. And if you want to really go pro, living near a rail station or bus route, and also having (or choosing) a MARTA-accessible job, means you always have a back-up ride at your disposal.