Public Transportation Expansion For Georgia’s Tourists

A famous man by the name of Herschel Walker once said, “Coming from a small town it was tough to dream big. When I grew up in a small town in Georgia, my biggest dream was one day to be able to go to Atlanta.” It is evident that people not only across the United States, but across the world share Herschel Walker’s dream of coming to Atlanta. According to (Hartsfield), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the world’s busiest airport since 1998. This goes to say that Atlanta’s beauty and view points bring in tourists from across the globe. With all of the beauty that Atlanta has to offer, tourists need a way to navigate throughout the city. The Atlanta Street Car and MARTA’s train system give tourists an easy way to navigate throughout Atlanta, but unlike other major cities in the United States, this public transportation systems lack of expansion leaves tourists with inconvenient ways of traveling to other historic landmarks across Georgia. Some of these historic landmarks that tourists may struggle attend include; Stone Mountain, Six Flags over Georgia, and Lake Lanier Islands.

Stone Mountain, which is located in Dekalb County is a popular landmark in the state of Georgia. According to (David), Native Americans were the first humans to visit and explore Stone Mountain 9,000 years ago.  Native American tribes used Stone Mountain as an important meeting place where they discussed plans on how to avoid the diseases that the Europeans carried. Around 1847, white settles began to populate the mountain and eventually gave it the name Stone Mountain.  To go along with Stone Mountain’s ancient history, in 1915, Stone Mountain became the birth place of the second Klu Klux Klan. This is also the around the same time where the famous confederate memorial carving began to be created. In 1958, the state of Georgia bought Stone Mountain for 2 million dollars. Over the years the mostly white population flooded the Stone Mountain area, but recently the white population has begun to decrease as many black people are starting to move in. With black people moving into the area and with Stone Mountain being a popular landmark this raised questions on whether the confederate memorial carving is racist or not. This has lead to a big discussion over destroying the historic carving and changing it to a carving of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Despite all of the controversy, Stone Mountain offers visitors many fun and exciting things to do. Some of the fun things that can be done at Stone Mountain include playing in the snow at Snow Mountain, watching the laser show, climbing the mountain, riding on the skylift cable car, and visiting the Art Station. Stone Mountain is one of the best attraction sites in Georgia and it’s a shame that the Atlanta Street Car and MARTA train system do not expand out to this location making it difficult for tourists coming out of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to travel to Stone Mountain.

To go along with Stone Mountain, Six Flags Over Georgia is also a popular landmark located in Austell, Georgia. A man named Angus G. Wynne Jr. opened the first Six Flags park in Texas around 1961. When he saw the amount of success that Six Flags Over Texas had, he decided to build another Six Flags park in Georgia. In 1967, Six Flags Over Georgia opened to the public and had a lot of success due to its many attractions. The most popular attraction that opened at the time of the park’s arrival was a ride named the Dahlonega Mine Train, which was named after a Dahlonega mining town. A number of other attractions gave Six Flags Over Georgia success such as The Log Jamboree Log Flume, the historic Riverview Park Carousel, and a parachute ride called The Great Gasp. With the amount of success that these attractions had, it was time to construct one of the greatest roller coaster rides in the world. This famous roller coaster was named ‘The Great American Scream Machine’ and was constructed in 1973. These rides and attractions molded the image of what Six Flags Over Georgia was to look like in the future. Now, Six Flags Over Georgia has become a favorite spot for people of all ages to go and have fun. With rides like Batman, Superman, Acrophobia, Ninja, and the famous Goliath, it easy to tell why Six Flags Over Georgia is a popular spot in the state of Georgia. Unfortunately for tourists, The Atlanta Street Car and MARTA train system do not expand out far enough to be able to drop you off at Six Flags Over Georgia.

In addition to Stone Mountain and Six Flags, Lake Lanier is also a popular historic landmark located in North Georgia. According to (Watson), after World War 2, Congress wanted to improve the nations water system for national defense, flood control, power production, navigation and water supplies. This meant that the reservoir Lake Lanier needed to be constructed. In order for Lake Lanier to be constructed the government had to buy more land. Since people lived on this privately owned land, the government was forced to pay these people off. The final cost of getting the right amount of land and paying the people that lived there off was around $45 million dollars. In 1956, the creation of the Buford Dam on the Chattahoochee River produced Lake Lanier. Lake Lanier was named after a poet named Sidney Lanier. He was remembered for his famous poem named  “The Song of The Chattahoochee”. The lake was named after him because of the amount of praise that he gave the Chattahoochee River in his poem. Nowadays, Lake Lanier has become a fun place where visitors come to have a good time. Lake Lanier offers its visitors activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, and golf. Lake Lanier also offers a stunning 4th of July fireworks show. With the numerous activities at Lake Lanier it is no wonder that it is one of the greatest landmarks in Georgia. Sadly, The Atlanta Street Car and MARTA train system go nowhere close to Lake Lanier making the trip up North Georgia a really long one.

With it being difficult for tourists to get to places like Stone Mountain, Six Flags Over Georgia, and Lake Lanier via the transportation system, that raises questions on why this is. I recently read an article that was published by WSBTV. In the article Lori Geary talks about how badly MARTA and The Atlanta Street Car want to expand. In order to make this happen it would cost $8 billion dollars. Although this expansion would cost tax payers a lot of money, MARTA chairman Robbie Ashe sees this as an opportunity to promote economic growth and to help fill jobs. This new expansion would extend rail lines to parts of North Dekalb, Alpharetta, and parts of South Dekalb. Although there are many people pushing to get this expansion completed, there are also many people that do not want to get this expansion completed.  As apart of my research over the built environment in Atlanta I have uncovered that one of the major reasons that many people living in Georgia do not want MARTA or The Atlanta Street Car to expand is because an expansion would provide easy access to the suburbs. Many wealthy people do not want this because it enables minorities and poor people to have a better opportunity to take suburban jobs and move into the area. This hurts tourists because this forces them to have to find a more difficult way to get to tourist attractions outside of Atlanta. Instead of being able to hop on a train and be at the attraction in 10 minutes, tourists may have to resort to spending large amounts of time in Atlanta traffic via car, uber/taxi, or bus.*750xx4928-2772-0-254.jpg

With Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being the busiest airport in the world, it is no secret that Atlanta brings in many tourists. The city of Atlanta has so many beautiful attractions such as The World of Coke, The Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Park, and The High Musuem of Art. What is special about these attractions is the fact that tourists can get to these locations for a cheap price via The Atlanta Street Car and the MARTA train system. However, tourists find it difficult to attend attractions outside of Atlanta such as Stone Mountain, Six Flags, and Lake Lanier because transportation systems such as The Atlanta Street Car and the MARTA train do not expand out that far. This lack of expansion is due to high costs and a rich verses poor battle. For the most part tourists seem relatively content with the way the transportation system in Georgia is treating them, but in the future I would suggest that Georgia take after states with great public transportation such as California, New York, and Illinois. Expansion in Georgia’s public transportation will not only lead to better economic success, but it will also be the icing on the cake that makes tourists happy. To go along with this, the people in the state of Georgia need to follow in Herschel Walker’s footsteps and dream big. It is time to stop talking about expanding the public transportation system in Georgia and make it happen. Lets do it for the tourists!


Works Cited

David B. Freeman, Carved in Stone: The History of Stone Mountain (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1997).

Geary, Lori. “MARTA Pushing for Largest Expansion in History.” WSBTV. 20 July 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.

“Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.” Operation Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Watson, Shane. “The History of Lake Lanier.” Be Flexible For Lake Lanier Stripers. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.