Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

MARTA beefs up staffing for NCAA men’s basketball tournament


MARTA will beef up staffing for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this week to avoid a repeat of problems that followed college football championship in January. 

Atlanta will host the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight matchups at Philips Arena on Thursday and Saturday. To accommodate the crowds, MARTA will provide additional rail and bus service both evenings, with extra trains and buses on standby. Airport service will be available on the Red and Gold lines until game crowds clear. 

In addition, Philips Arena and Five Points stations will be staffed with more agents to load trains quickly and prevent overcrowding on platforms. The Peachtree Center, North Springs, Doraville, Indian Creek, H.E. Holmes and College Park stations also will receive additional staff. 

In January hundreds of passengers were stranded at Five Points Station after the college football championship. Passengers described a chaotic scene as more and more people packed into the station while northbound trains failed to depart. 

MARTA said medical emergencies at two stations delayed some trains, and huge crowds pressing up against the trains – and opening their doors – prevented others from departing. But the agency also said far fewer employees showed up to work the night of the game than expected, making it difficult to manage the crowd. 

The agency encourages passengers attending the basketball championship to buy a round-trip Breeze card so they won’t have to wait in long lines to buy a ticket after the games. For information on routes and schedules, visit www.itsmarta.com.


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About the Author

David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee.