So you’re heading to downtown Atlanta on New Year’s Eve for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Peach Drop or other festive shindig, and you’ve realized that driving, Uber, Lyft or a taxi just isn’t the way to beat the crowds. Enter MARTA, the local transit agency that conveniently offers train service to downtown Atlanta on four rail lines, plus travels to other hot locations such as Midtown and Buckhead. With a round trip fare at $5 (plus the price of the fare card), you can be on your way to celebrate the new year without getting in a vehicle.
But so will many other people. Train frequency will be every 12 minutes until the last trains depart Five Points at 2 a.m. (buses on Saturday schedule), but expect crowds, especially traveling in and out of downtown. To make your commute experience as easy as possible, see these three tips to reduce stress and avoid hassle so you can spend more time enjoying the festivities.
1. Purchase fare in advance
If you want to avoid lines at the MARTA stations, purchase your roundtrip fare before Dec. 31. If you don’t already have a Breeze card that holds MARTA fare, you can purchase one along with the desired fare at any MARTA station (see station map). You can also add fare online if you already have a Breeze card (immediately available for rail use, but allow at least three hours for bus commutes), and best to add fare before New Year’s Eve as the website might be slower due to heavy online traffic.
Remember that children 46 inches and shorter are free, but there is a limit of two free children per paying adult. At minimum you will need two trips and a Breeze card for all qualifying riders or chose the day pass for unlimited rides if you plan to ride multiple trains and buses throughout the night.
2. Be smart with parking and riding
Many of MARTA’s rail stations offer free daily parking — but not overnight parking. If there is a possibility that you may end up staying out all night or spending the night at a hotel or with friends or family near your event or near MARTA, you’ll want to park at a station with long-term parking to avoid having your car ticketed or towed. Overnight parking rates are $5 to $8 depending on the location. See the list of MARTA parking options here.
If you are traveling to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it is easiest to park on the blue rail line to avoid transferring trains. Good options include H.E. Holmes, Inman Park, Candler Park, East Lake, Avondale or Indian Creek stations.
Otherwise, all trains travel to the Peach Drop in downtown Atlanta, opening up more suitable parking options. The Lindbergh Center MARTA station is always a good choice if you live north of the city, especially as it offers easy access to I-75, I-85 and Ga. 400. Look for the Sydney Marcus deck near Piedmont Road and Sydney Marcus Blvd. for overnight parking at $8/day. Two other parking decks are also on site for daily parking via Lindbergh Drive.
Use the real-time arrival app
Don’t leave home without downloading MARTA’s On the Go app for Android and iPhone. The app contains maps and real-time train arrivals, which is key in planning your commute. Instead of feeling frustrated waiting on the train platform, spend extra time at home or at your destination before heading to MARTA to have a more pleasant experience.
Keep in mind that some of the underground stations have poor cell phone reception (such as Peachtree Center), so make note of train arrivals before going underground. Stations usually have digital signs that also provide information on the next arriving trains. Be sure to leave enough time to get back to MARTA before service ends around 2 a.m. or plan for an alternate way home. (If you are new to Uber, use promo code MARTAGuide to get $20 off your first ride).
Be safe and happy holidays!