Beginning Monday, local commuters will have a new option for getting to and from downtown Atlanta.
The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority’s (GRTA) Xpress service launches June 20. About a dozen people were on hand for the June 13 informational meeting in which GRTA spokesman Rob Alexander answered questions regarding routes, fares and other service related questions.
“We pride ourselves very much on having personal customer service,” Alexander said as he distributed information to the group of potential GRTA customers.
One of those potential customers, Dacula resident Gloria Palmer, has been using commuter bus service for four years. Palmer currently commutes 30 minutes each way to and from the park and ride at Highway 20 and I-985 and says she is looking forward to traveling just five minutes from her home to catch a bus.
“What a blessing,” she said.
Palmer, who works in the Summit Building downtown, was so pleased to learn of the new Xpress service, she immediately began spreading the word.
“I told everybody I knew,” she said.
Diane Zimmerman also looks forward to using the commuter bus service.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “It’s going to get traffic off the road.”
Zimmerman said she currently travels to Sugarloaf Parkway and I-85 to catch the Gwinnett Transit bus to downtown Atlanta. Her commute, she said, takes anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes each way.
was also present for the June 13 meeting. Wilbanks said during the planning phase, but expressed support for the service.
“If we can take traffic off the expressway, we need to do that,” Wilbanks said.
Not everyone at Monday night’s meeting was as supportive about the new commuter service.
“You're going to bring 400 cars into our city,” said Dacula resident Ken Martin. “Four hundred cars in this town – it’s going to screw things up.”
Martin said he was worried about the effect excess traffic will have on area roads. He also expressed concern that GRTA is paying tax dollars to Hebron Baptist Church to lease the spots.
Alexander explained the authority was receiving a service in exchange for the funds and not simply giving money to the church.
GRTA is leasing a total of 400 parking spaces from . The leased spaces will be in the lot bordered by Hebron Church Road, Dacula Road and Fence Road. . The authority plans to make some minor improvements to the lot including sidewalk work, a handicap accessible ramp and minor modifications to the existing shelter. The modifications are expected to cost less than $3,000.
GRTA had originally planned to construct a park and ride facility at Cedars Road. Alexander said the authority does not plan to build a new lot at this time, but will develop the Cedars Road property at some point in the future.
For now, commuters will be able to board the Xpress bus at the Hebron Church parking lot. The current proposed timetable shows departure times beginning at 5:20 a.m. on weekdays. Buses will depart every half hour until 7:50 a.m. with stops including Williams Street at Harris Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at Courtland Street (Georgia State Capitol). Afternoon service begins at 3:25 p.m. with departures every half hour until 5:55 p.m. Buses will depart from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Courtland Street (Georgia State Capitol) with stops including the Ivan Allen Jr. Building at Spring Street (westbound at the W Hotel) and Five Points MARTA station (see images for details).
A one-way trip will cost $4, a round-trip will be $7, 10 one-way trips will be sold for $35 or riders may purchase a 31-day pass with unlimited trips for $125. GRTA will also provide free MARTA transfers to those commuting to midtown.
Customers may pay with exact cash, a MARTA Breeze Card or GRTA fare pass (blue zone). Gwinnett County Transit passes will not be accepted, nor will operators provide change.
Customers may also sign up for GRTA’s RideSmart service. Participants are eligible for a free taxi ride in the event of an emergency or unscheduled overtime that causes the commuter to be unable to use the transit service.
“It’s a good safety for you in case you need to get back in the middle of the day,” Alexander said.
Eligible commuters may visit the RideSmart website for additional details.
For more information about the Xpress service, contact GRTA by email at customerservice@XpressGA.com or call the Regional Customer Service Center at 404-463-GRTA (-4782). You can also get GRTA service alerts on Twitter at twitter.com/xpressga.