17 Tips for Riding MARTA & Public Transportation in Atlanta, Georgia

Riding the MARTA trains in Atlanta, Georgia.

The first time I went to Atlanta for America’s Mart Atlanta, the premier gift and home decor show, I was staying with a friend of mine outside Atlanta. My friend told me not to ride the MARTA as it was not safe, but instead to drive downtown and park my car.

I took her advice and drove to downtown Atlanta and parked my car for 40 USD per day. Since then I have been to Atlanta many l times, one of the things I have enjoyed is being able to ride on the MARTA. Not only do I save on parking but it is also much faster than driving through Atlanta’s traffic.

I have found riding the MARTA to be safe. Like whenever you go to a new place and ride new public transportation there are always a few things you should remember such as when and how to ride the MARTA and how to stay staff on the MARTA system.

Here is a video that shows you a bit about what it like to ride the MARTA in Atlanta Georgia.

So I have put together 16 tips to help you ride the MARTA and stay safe while having an enjoyable ride:

Tip 1 – Ride During the Peak Times

Try to ride the MARTA during peak times which is from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays. The MARTA stations I have been to do have some police there, but police may not be there all the time.

Atlanta is still a major USA city, (just under 500,000 people). It is the capital of the U.S. State of Georgia and like a lot of major U.S. cities, there are parts of the city that are safer than other parts.

Tip 2 – Take the MARTA From the Airport

When I go to Atlanta I always stay at the Marriott Hotel in Buckhead which is close to the Lenox Mall at the Lenox stop on the Doraville Line. Even though the Marriot I stay at is not right next to the train station, I find the short walk to be easy and even though the hotel is willing to come by to get me if I call them. But if you do not need to rent a car in Atlanta and you are flying in, taking the MARTA is a great way to get around the city.

Here are some reasons to consider taking the MARTA from the Airport:

  • Easy Access – Getting on the MARTA from the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport is extremely easy. The MARTA station is in the same building as the Airport itself and so you do not even have to go outside to get on the MARTA. It is very close to the baggage claim area.
  • First Stop on the Red and Yellow Lines – The Airport MARTA station is the first stop on the Red and Yellow Lines so the trains are usually there waiting for the passengers before they leave.
  • Train Cars Have A Place For Baggage – Many of the train cars have a special place to put your larger luggage pieces.

Tip 3 – Get a MARTA Breeze Card

If you are riding the MARTA for a few days, it will be much easier if you get yourself a MARTA pass or a MARTA Breeze card. This way you can fill the card up for as much as you may need it and will not have to buy a new ticket each time you travel.

If your first stop is at the Atlanta Airport, there are usually people at the MARTA booths at the Airport where you can get a Breeze card and also have them check your Breeze card if you have an older card. If you are starting your journey at a smaller station, you may find they only have a MARTA machine for you to get your pass.

Tip 4 – Getting a Plastic Breeze Can Saves Money

Each time you purchase a paper ticket it will cost you 1 USD extra to your fare. though you can buy a one-way or round-trip or a few fares on a paper ticket. But if you buy a Breeze card (which is a plastic card you can keep and save for the next time you come to Atlanta) the cost is only 2 USD for the Breeze card.

So if you are going to be in Atlanta a few days and maybe coming back again, getting a MARTA Breeze card is worth the 2 USD they charge. You can easily top-up the breeze card with extra trips as you need them. This is normally the way I travel around Atlanta as I come to Atlanta at least twice a year.

You can buy your breeze card at the online MARTA Breeze Store by clicking here or at one of the MARTA booth or card machines at the MARTA stations.

Tip 5 – Economical Way to Get Around Atlanta

Riding the MARTA in Atlanta is an economical way to get around Atlanta. Riding on the MARTA will cost you about 2.50 USD per ride plus the cost of the breeze card.

When you see the morning or evening traffic on the Atlanta freeway and you see that the traffic is completely stopped, you will be thankful that you choose to go by the MARTA. So not only is taking the MARTA an economical way to get around Atlanta Georgia but it can be much faster than driving.

Tip 6 – Everyone Needs Their Own Breeze Card

If you are traveling with other people, everyone will need their own Breeze card. You cannot share a breeze card.

If you are a large group or even a large family you can visit the online MARTA store to get your cards for your group. You can find information on the MARTA Breeze online store by clicking here.

MARTA will give some discounts to Senior Citizens, school groups and students. If you have a group of 15 people or more who will need to ride the MARTA you can contact MARTA directly by clicking on their website and calling the number they have listed for such requests.

Tip 7- MARTA Machines Accept Cash and Credit Cards

All the machines I have used to top-up or to get my MARTA pass has allowed me to pay in cash or with a credit or debit card. This means it is quite easy to be able to top-up your MARTA pass or to buy yourself a MARTA pass.

Riding the MARTA
Riding the MARTA trains in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tip 8 – Consider a MARTA Visitors Pass

If this is going to be the ONLY time you will be in Atlanta and will need to ride the MARTA you can also consider buying yourself a MARTA visitors pass.

The paper Breeze tickets will give you a limited number of fares such as a one-way, round trip or 1, 2, 3 and 4-day passes which will include unlimited trips. The one-day pass is valid only for the day it is purchased.

If you have any questions about these passes you can check out the MARTA website by clicking here.

Tip 9 – Stay Safe On the MARTA

One of the biggest concerns for many people riding the MARTA is how do I stay safe while riding on the MARTA?

Here are some of our MARTA safety tips:

  • Don’t Ride The MARTA Late At Night – If you have another option, do not ride the MARTA late at night. I must admit I always ride it in the day and pretty close to the morning or evening commute and I have found it to be very safe. In fact, the last time I was riding the MARTA I saw a lot more police in the stations.
  • People May Ask For Money – I have had people ask me for money as I have gotten on or off the MARTA. I have even had people follow me to ask me for money. Normally I will refuse to give anything, but be prepared that may happen. There are some people who may ride the MARTA all day looking for people they can try to get money from. This is no different than what many happen on pubic transportation in other major cities around the world.
  • Watch Your Belongings – You will need to watch your belongings. I will hang on to my bags and suitcases while I am riding on the MARTA When I say I hold on them, I will actually keep my hand on them at all times.
  • Watch Your Luggage in the Turnstiles – Where I have had issues was that I have had luggage get stuck in the turnstile or people try to grab it. So when you go through the turnstiles be careful.

Tip 10 – You Can Park N Ride

MARTA has several locations where you park your car and then ride the MARTA into the city. This will generally save you a lot of money as you can park your car for free and then ride the MARTA downtown.

Here are a few things to know about this:

Tip 11 – Connect With a Bus or Streetcar

Besides being able to park your car at the MARTA station, the MARTA also links with Atlanta’s bus and streetcar service. MARTA’s bus and streetcars have over 91 routes that cover thousands of miles around the Atlanta Area.

To find out more if you can take the bus to your destination you can click on the MARTA website or download the MARTA app to find out more about the schedule.

Tip 12 – Download the MARTA App

MARTA has a really great app that will give you update schedules and information about the MARTA and your ride on the MARTA. If you are needing a catch a bus from the MARTA station this can be particularly helpful for you to be able to coordinate your MARTA trip with the Bus Schedule.

This is what you can find on the MARTA App:

  • Schedules of all MARTA trains and buses.
  • Real-time tracking of trains and buses
  • Access to the Google transit trip planner and Uber for you to make any last-minute connections.
  • Full MARTA rail system map.
  • A list of stops to find your closest bus stop.
  • Any system alerts or delays.
  • Review and access to your breeze card balance

To down the MARTA App, you can go to the MARTA website by clicking here.

Tip 13 – Riding the MARTA with Children

Some of you may be needing to ride the MARTA with children. Here are a few things that are helpful for you to know about this:

  • Children Ride Free – Children who are 46″ (116 cm) or less will ride free on the MARTA.
  • Two Children per Adult – Only 2 children ride free per each paying adult is allowed.
  • Only Applies To Children Under 5 Years of Age – This policy only applies to children of 5 years of age or less.

So if a child is over 6 years old and even if they are 45″ tall, they will still need to pay for the appropriate fare. For more information about the child policy, you can find out more on the MARTA website by clicking here.

Tip 14 – Traveling with Pets

MARTA also allows you to travel on the MARTA with your pets. Here are a few things for you to know about this:

  • Service Animals – Service Animals are the only animals that can ride the MARTA unconfined. All other animals must be confined.
  • Confining Animals – MARTA defines the confining of animals as being in a secure pet cage that has a lock or latch so the pet cannot escape. So having a dog on a leash will not be accepted unless the dog is a service dog.

To find out more about traveling on MARTA, the Streetcars or Buses with pets you can check here.

Tip 15 – MARTA and Bicycles

Have a bicycle you want to bring on the MARTA? This is not a problem. In fact, as I have ridden the MARTA I have seen quite a few people with bikes traveling on the MARTA.

Here are a few things to know if you want to bring your bicycle on the MARTA:

  • Bike Areas on Trains – The trains have plenty of room for bikes. There are usually areas where there are no seats where you can place your bike.
  • Every Bus has a storage rack – If you are going to also take the bus, there is a storage rack for two bikes on every bus.
  • Access to MARTA Trains- There are elevators and widen hallways at the stations so that all bikes of all sizes can usually be accommodated.
  • Free Parking – MARTA stations offer free bike storage racks. All you need to do is find a space that is open and lock your bike up.

MARTA is, in fact, trying to encourage this as they are also setting up bicycle repair kiosks to fix things such as a flat tire. To find out more about bringing you a bike on the MARTA and some of their rules, you can find the information on the MARTA website by clicking here.

Tip 16 – Check out MARTA’s Website and Information

Before you visit Atlanta, Georgia check out the information that MARTA has available. MARTA has a very good website that is filled with a lot of information about riding the MARTA trains and other transportation around the Atlanta Georgia area.

Here are some of the top MARTA links for you to check out:

  • MARTA Website – MARTA has a very good website that is filled with information. You can visit the MARTA website by clicking here.
  • Download the MARTA App – You can download the MARTA App to get all the last-minute information on trains, schedules, and even delays. You can find out everything you need to know about the MARTA through their App. You can download the MARTA App by clicking here.
  • Download and Print the MARTA Map and Information. – You can also download and print a PDF copy of the MARTA Map and other information by clicking here.

Tip 17 – Enjoy the Ride

No matter why you are riding MARTA – if you are going to work, going to a trade show or visiting Atlanta for the first time. – enjoy the ride on MARTA. You will be thankful you did as you will not be stuck in Atlanta’s notorious traffic but you will also find it a memorial experience

Riding the MARTA is a great way to get around Atlanta, Georgia. Not only is it not expensive and generally a safe way to get around Atlanta Georgia, but it will also save you time as you will not be sitting in traffic. I find it a great way to get around the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Related Questions

What Taxis Are Available in Atlanta?

Atlanta has several taxi companies and services. Some of the major ones include:

  • Atlanta Checker Cab.
  • Cascade Cab Co.
  • Uber.
  • Lyft.

Where are Atlanta’s Least Safe Neighborhoods?

The least safe neighborhoods or areas thought to be the most dangerous place to live and stay in Atlanta Georgia are:

  • Midtown
  • U-Rescue Villa
  • Old Fourth Ward
  • Kirkwood
  • Downtown
  • Castleberry Hill
  • Washington Park
  • Bankhead
  • Edgewood
  • Peoplestown
  • East Atlanta (particularly the East Atlanta Village).

Where is the safest area to stay in Atlanta?

The safest areas to stay in Atlanta generally are thought of as:

  • Buckhead (excluding the Lindbergh neighborhood) / Chastain Park
  • Brookhaven
  • Vinings
  • North Druid Hills
  • Virginia Highland/ Druid Hills
  • Decatur / Avondale Estates
  • Underwood Hills / The Westside
  • Morningside / Ansley Park
  • Poncey-Highlands (excluding Little Five Points)
  • Candler Park / Lake Claire
  • Inman Park
  • Cabbagetown
  • Reynoldstown (particularly on the west side)
  • Grant Park / Ormewood Park
  • Knight Park 

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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