Removing Publix stop is an inconvenience

Photo by Tyler Meuter

While Parking and Transportation Services is not a popular branch of Tech’s operations, they had not bothered me until the recent announcement of the reduced Publix trolley stop service. As a carless student, I prefer biking but use the Trolley for groceries. As of June 1, the trolley only stops at Publix on weekends and weekdays after 5 p.m. Students who have evening classes or prefer avoiding the crowded shopping hours will be inconvenienced by this change. While it is not a long walk to the Midtown MARTA stop, carrying a heavy load of groceries in the summer heat is definitely an inconvenience.

The change in service itself does not bother me as much as the claimed reasoning behind it: to “provide space availability to passengers at Tech Square as increased ridership is anticipated in the fall,” according to the PTS website. Where is the logic in that purported purpose? Removing the Publix stop during typical business hours will not cause people to stop using the Trolleys; it will not address the problem of increased ridership since the grocery shoppers will simply walk to the MARTA station stop.

If the purpose of this change was for the routes to run faster and thus slightly increase frequency of trolleys, then they should cut down on the time spent stalling at the Transportation Hub instead of cutting the brief stop at Publix, where there is a stop sign anyway. I may not be an engineer, but the most logical and responsible solution to increased ridership would be running more Trolleys, not reducing service to a key stop.

I believe that PTS is reducing service to this stop because it is near University House and Square on 5th. As the competitively priced, higher-than-campus-quality student apartments are located near Tech Square, I think Tech is subtly trying to make these new housing options inconvenient and drive people back on campus for future housing. By protecting their commercial self-interest, Tech is avoiding the positive, but of course more costly, way of addressing this problem: improving on-campus housing.

This preventative move of reducing service near the new independent student housing will affect every student who uses the Trolley for grocery shopping. The fall 2015 transportation fee of $81 that everyone pays has not changed from spring 2015 or fall 2014. Therefore, even if Tech cannot find a way to increase Trolley service, the service should at least be kept constant.

Tech, please do not try to counteract a minority of students choosing a new off-campus option at the expense of the majority of students, who will experience decreased service at the same cost. And if you must reduce service because better off-campus options threaten you, then at least be straightforward about it and avoid providing illogical reasons for your financially motivated action.