The other commute 

At 8 a.m., the MARTA bus whooshes to a stop on West Ponce de Leon in Decatur. The bus-stop sign has been pushed almost completely over and someone has written in black Sharpie on its post "MARTA SUX." There are three riders.

Buses and trains are a key to reducing Atlanta's traffic. But ride along for a morning and you'll feel like your in a parallel universe that has little to do with the steering-wheel clutching, accelerator-pushing majority of Atlanta commuters.

J.J. White, who has driven buses in Atlanta for 31 years, watches the $1.75 fare drop into his till and hands over a bus-to-rail transfer pass.

Jacqueline Gilleylen catches the bus around 7:30 in Avondale Estates and rides down to the North Avenue station. She works at the Bank of America. Although she generally likes MARTA, today is a bad day to ask her opinion.

"I chased the bus for a block this morning," she says. "He finally saw me throwing pine cones at him and he stopped."

At Briarcliff, three more people board. One of them is Therese Gesing, a 24-year-old website designer. Gesing moved to Atlanta from Cleveland five years ago. She's not sure she'll be buying a car anytime soon. "When I consider how much money I'd spend on a car payment, insurance, gas and maintenance -- it's not worth it."

At the station, Gesing boards a train to the Arts Center, where she catches a Cobb Community Transit bus. The transfer is free.

The CCT's 10A bus heads up I-75. The southbound lanes are crunchy with cars packed in like wafers, but northbound, the lanes are breezy.

Charles Kimani doesn't really notice. He's using the bus only until he can buy a new car. He totaled his in December on I-75. He was on his way home from work, in the middle of rush hour, when one of his tires blew out and another car slammed into his. He's looking forward to getting back out there in the traffic.

"I need a car," says the Kenyan-born accountant. "It's just more convenient."


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