MARTA or Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority was, is, and will continue to be another example of why Atlanta
doesn't really work. It is our (I am an Atlantan of 9 years) "subway".
The first thing you will notice is the size of the stations. These things are huge. Gargantuan. They are all filled with inoffensive public-art. And these aren't little posters but big sprawling peices hanging in the air or cemented in the walls all over the station. Many of the stations are equipped with multi-tiered parking decks that are so elaborate and complex that they simply look absurd. You will ask yourself, "Why do we need this again?" because the actual platforms for the subway are small and the trains take forever to show up.
And the trains! Clean, albeit smelly (but that's really just Atlantans for you), and they look great. And the newer trains are like antiseptic space capsules. However the service is always jerky and slow, and the actual rails themselves are always being serviced and so they constantly have to "single-track" service. This is a huge problem because there are only 2 rail lines. Yes, only 2. And then the trains are constantly breaking down on them! This means twenty thirty and forty minutes waiting for a train sometimes. Give me the rickety but faithful trains of NYC!
MARTA, even though it never actually makes any money, charges $1.75 per ride and it costs me $37 to get my discounted student monthy card. MARTA was just recently voted by our Creative Loafing, the Best Way To Get Nowhere Fast And Pay A Lot For It. It is much maligned and it deserves it. It is an example of a corrupt company that bleeds the city and the corrupt city government that helps them every step of the way by giving them all the money they say they need. And, no joke, everything in Atlanta works this way. This is not a conspiracy, it's painfully obvious. Good old boys in kahootz and corrupt minority contractors. Atlanta isn't a big city, it's just a bunch of rednecks walking around big buildings.
The way to make a real transit system is to build numerous small stations all over the city. I would certainly prefer bland, institutional transit stations to a gorgeous rail system that doesn't take you anywhere. But MARTA is stuck. MARTA isn't going to change, and really, the more money shoved in will probably make things worse. But I ride the son of a bitch every day and let me tell you, it may suck ass, but it sure beats driving in Atlanta.