There’s good news afoot for metro Atlantans who’ve wanted to, say, catch an afternoon Braves game, swing from South Downtown to Stone Mountain, or swoop into the airport without driving to those places or paying for rideshare.
ATL Rides—a means of planning regional trips on transit via smartphones that’s being called “a game changer for Atlanta commuters”—is now real.
Officials with Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, or ATL, on Monday announced the region’s first transit trip planning app is available for download, following months of Beta testing that started in the spring.
The goal of the new ATL Rides technology is simple (in a balkanized region where transit connections often aren’t): To enable transit customers to plan seamless trips, by way of a one-stop-shop app, for crossing systems in 13 counties operated by six different agencies.
Those include Xpress, MARTA, Ride Gwinnett, CobbLinc, Connect Douglas, and the Cherokee Area Transit System, or CATS.
The service is free and quick (based on our test runs), and it’s extra handy in immediately providing total fare costs for each trip. Not being in a hurry, in most cases, will probably boost user satisfaction.
ATL officials say the navigation app differentiates itself from others, such as Google Maps, by providing updated route information, including bus and train arrival times, sourced directly from each transit agency. Another feature allows passengers with disabilities to select only wheelchair-accessible routes.
Upgrades to the app in the future will include on-demand services such as paratransit and micromobility options, including scooter and bike share, officials say.
ATL has been working since 2019 on a means of removing barriers for regional transit users and providing the info they need to make trips work. A limited number of users were invited to test ATL Rides and report back during the Beta phase this year, a process the agency calls successful.
The app project was funded by a $20.3 million grant awarded in 2020 from the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation program, with the state providing about $200,000 in matching funds. ATL was one of 25 recipients selected from 104 agencies that were eligible. [CLARIFICATION: 2:44 p.m., Nov. 16: ATL reps send word the app was funded through a $430,400 grant awarded to the ATL as part of the much larger $20.3 million grant.]
“The development of ATL Rides is the culmination of the strong partnership between these six transit agencies in the metro Atlanta area,” Jannine Miller, ATL executive director, said in a Monday announcement. “Creating and launching this new app is a result of a new level of coordination across the region’s transit agencies.”
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