You’ll need a few things. Like a Breeze card, a bike, maps, a cell phone, and some knowledge. This list strives to be comprehensive, so if we missed something important, let us know and we’ll add it!

Mass Transit

MARTA “Breeze” card (called the Breeze card ’cause it makes riding MARTA easier – most of the time anyway…)

There’s a one-time fee of $5 and the card includes 2 free trips. Don’t lose your card, or you’ll have to pay that $5 again. Here’s where to buy one. Everyone in your family (or group of friends if you flock together) needs their own card. Kids under this tall ride free. You’ll have to “tap out” when you leave the station to a) make the fare gates open and b) get your bus transfer if you need one. Eventually all the metro Atlanta transit systems will take Breeze cards.

The best deals on reloading fares are the monthly pass if you ride daily (ask your employer about discounts – most federal agencies provide the full amount FREE each month for transit commuters) or the $30 for 20 trips if you’re an occasional rider like me. One cool thing about the Breeze system is that a 7 day pass can start on any day, and the 30 day pass on any day, as opposed to being tied in to a month. There’s also a student pass program, discounted rates for seniors and those with handicaps, and a visitor pass that might save you money if you’re going to be riding a lot for a short period of time.  Breeze system FAQ.

Metro ATL transit providers

MARTA system map (view as a pdf or interactive online map)

“Xpress” Bus System (GRTA)

Cobb County Transit

Gwinnett County Transit

Sadly, Clayton County Transit service ended in March due to NO MONEY NO STATE SUPPORT, but Clayton County voters will vote July 20th in a non-binding referendum on joining the MARTA system.

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Bicycling

You need to get a decent, reliable bike (that does not mean expensive unless you want it to), some basic understanding of how it works, a replacement tube and a pump to fill up the tubes, a patch kit in case you get a flat, and some lights and a helmet to protect yourself.

Find a local bike shop you trust and get your bike tuned up before you start riding (or take it to the Sopo Bicycle Co-op and learn how to fix it up yourself).

I know you already know how to ride a bike (it’s like riding a bike, right?) but puh-leeze, take a class already. You’ll reinforce your good habits and shed some common misconceptions, plus learn crash-avoidance techniques. A survey by the national organization that provides the curriculum for these classes found you could cut your risk of being in a crash by 75%. That’s a duh decision. Take a class already.

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition classes – Confident City Cycling, Bike Basics, and Learn to Ride at Any Age.

Bicycle Tours of Atlanta – Safe Cycling Education

[Full disclosure – if you missed it, I work for the nonprofit that provides bike classes in the ATL. There is a local bicycle company that provides them as well, so I list both to be fair. Both groups use the national curriculum and were trained by the League of American Bicyclists.]

Bike map(s)

Bike suitability maps of Downtown/Midtown Atlanta and the Emory area, a Perimeter area bike map, and the PATH system of trails.

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Trip Planning

Google maps: select public transportation, walking, or biking directions. Biking directions are in beta and they are making changes based on user feedback, so don’t hesitate to click “problem with this route” if you see one (ie, Ponce de Leon was coding as bike-friendly when the biking directions first came out. Not any more!!!)

A-Train Trip Planner:  developed by a local nonprofit called Citizens for Progressive Transit. It may take you a few tries to understand the system for entering addresses, but once you do the interface is quite nice, with the option to bike or walk to transit, etc.

MARTA has a trip planner as well, called MyCommute, but personally I don’t find it very user-friendly.

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Car sharing etc

Zipcar : their tag line is “wheels when you want them,” and if you occasionally want/need a car for a few hours or a day, it makes a lot of sense to join zipcar. Check first to make sure there are cars parked near you – coverage on the south side of town is not great yet although we hear there is a car coming to the West End MARTA station, and there are cars parked at or near MARTA stations across the city.

If you’re a member of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, visit zipcar.com/atlbike to join zipcar for no application fee and 50% off the annual membership fee ($25 per year instead of $50). Then use the promo code bike25 to get $25 in free driving credit (expires 30 days after approval).

Guaranteed Ride Home

Who says there’s no free lunch, I mean ride? You do have to sign up and be a commuter who doesn’t drive alone to work, but once you register you get five free rides home or to your car from work per year (if an unscheduled or unexpected event occurs – learn more).

Cash for not driving

Commuter Rewards is a program offered by the Clean Air Campaign and local Transportation Management Associations. Depending on where you work, you will be eligible for one or the other.  I’m in the Downtown TMA’s zone, and J falls under the Clean Air Campaign since he works for the guvment.

2 Responses to “So you’re thinking about going car-free in Atlanta…”

  1. SJ Says:

    Can I rent a Zip Car daily (four days straight or a week) without having to return it daily?

    1. Josh Says:

      Yes.

      For how long can I reserve a Zipcar?

      You can reserve a Zipcar for as little as one hour, or as much as four days at a time. Whether it’s a quick shopping trip or an extra long weekend, you can book your chariot in half-hour increments.

      If you’d like to keep a car for more than four days, you can call us and we’ll try to help you out. Please understand that due to availability, location and other factors, we cannot guarantee reservations longer than four days.

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