The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) in Georgia saw rail ridership spike nearly 80 percent as customers and out-of-town visitors chose transit to attend the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and a host of other events.
Beginning Friday April 5, when the Final Four events began until after the championship game on Monday, April 8, MARTA saw an estimated 78 percent increase in rail ridership. During that period, there were about 1,140,000 total rail passenger boardings; about 500,000 more than on average days when no such events are taking place.
Passenger boardings include rail-to-rail transfers, which are not counted by MARTA’s Breeze farecard system. These boardings generally add about 30 percent to the total.
MARTA also saw an increase in ridership through customers who flocked into the city to attend free concerts and to watch the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks who were playing home games. In preparation for the crowds, MARTA added extra buses and trains, as well as redeployed police officers and station attendants.
Due to the extraordinary number of customers on the system, however, there were reports of long lines at some stations and unexpectedly long waits, indicating there’s room for improvement, says the authority.
“We did a good job getting customers where they were going safely,” said Keith T. Parker, MARTA’s general manager and CEO. “These are the kinds of large-scale events that really test our mettle and, most important, help us find ways we can do a better job of serving all of our customers every single day.”