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Monday, July 20, 2009

MARTA Bus in the Way

Today I was on Lenox Road in Atlanta, heading toward Piedmont. I got in the turn lane to turn onto Lindbergh to head for Emory. I teach every summer in the med school where the doctoral students in physical therapy learn interpersonal communications from me. I was in the turn lane with another car and a MARTA bus in front of me. Anyone who lives in Atlanta knows that this is a busy intersection.

The arrow came for turning and the MARTA bus turned left. Usually five or six cars turn left there before the arrow is gone. The car right behind the bus turned as did I. The MARTA bus stopped dead in front of the Chevron station on the corner, leaving me and the car in front of me stuck in the middle of the street, blocking traffic. I guess the bus let someone out, but it seemed to take forever, and then started moving just as the turning arrow turned yellow. I just barely made it through the light.

As I drove behind the car and the bus on Lindbergh, I saw the MARTA bus stop (the real one). It's about a city's block length from the intersection, which would be a safe place for the MARTA bus to stop. If the MARTA bus had stopped at the designated place, all five or six cars could have safely made the turn before waiting behind the stopped bus.

I was so irritated by being stuck in the intersection, in danger of being hit by an oncoming car as well as in danger from potential Atlanta road rage from other drivers because I was blocking the intersection.

I picked up my cell and used Google411 to call MARTA's customer service.

I explained to the customer service agent that the MARTA bus had stopped at a non-bus stop, blocking traffic in the intersection. She asked the route number. I didn't have that because I was behind the bus, but I did have the number on the back of the bus (2964). And I could describe the exact direction the bus was going.

I told her that the incident made me feel very unsafe and that I didn't think it was OK for the bus to stop where there wasn't an official MARTA stop. The bus is so big that to stop immediately upon making the left turn is a guarantee to strand the cars behind it.

I also told her that I am a MARTA fan, take it to the airport every time I fly, and take my grandson on the buses and the trains for fun Friday mornings. I wanted her to know that generally I support MARTA.

I don't know if my being assertive in this instance was of any help. My hope would be that the MARTA driver would be called to task for making an unofficial stop and causing traffic problems. I don't want anyone else to find themselves in my situation this morning.

I also have to report that the MARTA customer service rep called me back about 20 minutes later to make sure she had all of the details right.

That impressed me.

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