Today I got off of work at about the normal time (6:00) and walked to the MARTA station. Just outside the Georgia State Station a guy asked me which way Five Points was. I pointed and asked him why he was going there. He said that the MARTA system was shut down because someone jumped on the tracks (usually people do this as a suicide but sometimes they fall or are pushed; between the high voltage ‘third rail’ and a rapidly moving train, they usually die if they don’t get out quickly). I asked where they jumped and he said Candler Park.
But just then a train pulled into the station above going Eastbound. The guy ran back to the station. I entered the station and went to the top of the steps. There was a MARTA guy up there who said the train that had pulled in would be going back towards Five Points (to the West) and that the only way to go East was to catch some buses at street level that would go to East Lake Station. MARTA calls this a ‘bus bridge’ since they are bridging a gap in the rail system with buses. It sounds great, but the trains carry so many people that it takes a lot of buses to carry that many people and those buses take a while to mobilize, plus it’s not like they have a bunch of unused buses and drivers that need something to do during rush hour. As Samantha Baker said in Sixteen Candles ‘I loathe the bus.’
So I went back downstairs to the other entrance to the Georgia State station and there were a couple of hundred people waiting for buses. There was a bus already there but it was almost full already. A few minutes later another bus pulled up and started taking passengers. Since I had just gotten there I didn’t think I should take a spot on that bus and would wait for one. I don’t know if I could have gotten on that one before it filled up anyway. So those two buses pulled off and then we waited about 10 minutes. No more buses. About then a reporter and her cameraman showed up from Channel 11 News. They filmed all the people waiting and interviewed a couple of people. Down the street I could see some buses going East, but I think they may have been going from Five Points to East Lake and bridging around us. I had a prime spot for leaning against a pole where the other bus had parked, but I decided to go back in the station and see if the trains would be running soon. I also thought about walking but it was probably 4 miles to East Lake. There was no new news, but about then a bus showed up and parked right in front of the pole I had been leaning on. Now there was no way I could get to that bus before it filled. But all was not lost because almost immediately another bus arrived and I was able to get on.
We drove to King Memorial to let people off who were going there. Then we drove to Inman Park/Reynoldstown to let people off there (not many people got off, but I couldn’t really see). There were some police cars there so I think that was actually where the accident occurred. Then we drove on to Edgewood/Candler Park and stopped again. But they told all of us to get off at this station. A couple of minutes after we got there a nearly empty train pulled in going East. We pretty much filled it up, but most people got seats. The next station was East Lake and that station was very crowded with people from the bus bridge. Those people at East Lake didn’t care how crowded the train was because they were just so glad to see one. So then the train was packed solid pretty much until we got to my station, Avondale.
I got home at about 7:10 which is 40 minutes later than usual. That was the first time I had ever had to use a bus bridge before even though I’ve had delays of up to half an hour before. Days like this are the equivalent of just a horrible day of traffic jams for people who drive, but they don’t happen often.
I found out later from Channel 11’s website that the guy had jumped in front of a train at 4:00, but had lived and was taken to the hospital.