So, how does Atlanta's transit system really stack up?
In the first of a series of articles on how MARTA compares to other transit systems across the country, here's a look at the similarities and differences between Atlanta and Dallas when it comes to public transportation. Are things bigger and better in Texas? Find out below.
Overview of Services
Atlanta's MARTA is 35-years-old with heavy rail and bus service. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit System is 30-years-old and has regional trains, light rail, buses and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Dallas currently has the largest light rail service in the country with 90 miles of track. MARTA's total track mileage is 48.
Both transit systems have direct connections to airports: MARTA's Airport station arrives into the baggage claim area of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. DART's orange line arrives into Terminal A of the DFW Airport and there is also access to Love Field Airport via a short shuttle ride from the Inwood/Love Field light rail station. Both transit systems also provide access to their respective downtown areas.
However, the Dallas area also has two commuter lines: DCTA A-train and Trinity Railway Express, which provide additional access in the region.
The two transit systems operate on different fare systems, but have comparable rates. MARTA has a flat fee of $2.50 for a one-way trip, which includes several free transfers. Rates are cheaper for senior citizens and students through participating colleges.
DART uses a time-based fare system. You also pay $2.50, which provides unlimited rides within a two-hour period on the local system. It is $5 for an all-day pass (MARTA is $9). But a transfer to a regional train costs more fare. The two-hour cost for riding the regional train is $5 for two hours, $10 for a day pass.
For monthly passes, MARTA charges $95, as compared to $80 on DART for local service, though the Dallas regional commuter train monthly passes are $160.
Winner: DART (local area only)
Ridership and Population
According to the American Public Transportation Association's ridership report for the first quarter in 2014, MARTA averaged 213,600 riders on a weekday. DART averaged 92,800 riders in the same period, making MARTA clearly the winner as far as ridership. But how does the population factor in?
As of 2013, the City of Atlanta population was 447,841 and Dallas was at 1,257,676, according to the U.S. Census. Even though there are more people in the City of Dallas than the City of Atlanta, Atlanta still comes up on top for number of riders.