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Snowpocalypse taught us a few lessons—how to outfit your car for the next eighteen-hour commute (don’t forget a bucket to pee in!); how social media can accomplish what government cannot (thank you, Michelle Sollicito, creator of the SnowedOutAtlanta Facebook page); the best way to sleep on the floor of a CVS (diapers make good pillows).
Of course, not all lessons have been absorbed so easily. I got home that Tuesday night in the same amount of time I always do—by MARTA train. And yet Governor Deal, channeling the inexplicable antipathy so many Georgians have toward anything like a comprehensive mass transit system, announced that more mass transit “would not have caused us to have fewer single occupants in vehicles on the day in question.”
I’m sorry, what? Let me parse that, if I may. Let’s say that MARTA extended into Cobb County. I know, I know; perish the thought. But stay with me on this. What he’s saying, I’m pretty sure, is that if a MARTA train line went all the way to, say, Marietta, or heck, even Kennesaw, not a single person who was on the road that day, heading home to Cobb County from Downtown or Buckhead or wherever, who got stuck for hours, who abandoned their car and walked miles home, or just slept on a banquette in a hotel lobby in Smyrna, would have taken MARTA.
I happily acknowledge that the governor is much smarter than I am. So maybe it’s because he’s much smarter than I that I’m utterly confounded by his statement. The truth is, I hadn’t actually given his words much thought until I read Rebecca Burns’s story on food deserts in this month’s issue. The phrase “food deserts” has entered the civic lexicon only in recent years, but the phenomenon is pretty simple: If you live in a food desert, you don’t have easy access to fresh food. Thousands of us live in food deserts. For those of us with cars, the impact may not feel as tangible; you just have to decide whether stopping at the grocery on the way home is worth the trouble. But for those who don’t have cars, it’s not that simple. And so a story about food (or lack of it) becomes a story about transit. Or lack of it.
Here at Atlanta magazine, we like to think with each issue we’re holding up a mirror to the city (and, yes, to the region!) we love. Sometimes we like what we see. Sometimes we don’t. If we’re not clear-eyed about our problems, we’re just going to stay stuck.
This article originally appeared in our March 2014 issue.