MARTA Artbound Residency
Background
MARTA made its first train trip in 1979, on an electric “third rail” from Avondale Station to Georgia State Station, pulling up right down the street from the State Capitol building in Atlanta. It was an exciting day heralded by press and TV coverage that seemed to mark the beginning of a bright and modern transit future for metro Atlanta. Today, MARTA has 48 miles of rail traversing two counties, but a whopping 1,000 miles of bus coverage to three counties via 103 bus routes. In many ways, MARTA today is a bus agency first.
With advances in electric vehicles and acknowledging the expense of building an expanded rail network at this point in metro Atlanta’s development, indeed buses may be transit’s best hope in Atlanta. MARTA has received at least one federal grant to purchase electric buses and anticipates more in the future, while the current fleet is about 60% compressed natural gas and around 40% “clean” diesel. Convincing more riders to adopt the bus would not only improve congestion and therefore air quality, it would also build an engaged audience for MARTA that would likely result in better outcomes for later expansion. A larger MARTA ridership would improve the transit experience for all MARTA riders.
Challenges
MARTA’s most frequent bus users are more likely to be transit-dependent than those called “choice riders”. While trains see a higher percentage of riders who have elected to use transit, the typically stated obstacles to bus ridership for those who already have access to personal transportation include:
-          Schedule and routes are too difficult to understand
-          Arrival times are unreliable
-          Uncertainty about the unknown, never having ridden the bus before
-          Unaware that a bus route exists that would take them to their destination
Prompt
How can creative interventions improve bus ridership and the bus experience for all riders? Are there functional improvements to be made in communication and user experience for all bus riders via public art and other creative strategies?
A&E Atlanta Residency
Background
Established in 2017 by Atlanta City Council legislation and managed by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID), Arts & Entertainment Atlanta (A&E Atlanta) is a neighborhood activation and economic development project for Downtown Atlanta.
A&E Atlanta fuses new media, local art, and performance with advertising to fund cultural and public space programming in the city’s core. The goal of A&E Atlanta is to bring creative energy to the heart of Downtown Atlanta, highlighting the extraordinary work of commissioned artists and livening up the Downtown walls, streets, and sidewalks.
Through a unique partnership with media companies and property owners, A&E Atlanta activates spaces through outdoor media, local art, and advertising, helps to redefine Downtown living and provides artists a platform to display their vivid ideas and spur conversation, excitement and reflection.
Challenges
A&E Atlanta is entering its third year of programming and intends to elevate its digital sign messaging by exploring innovative and interactive approaches to engage the diverse downtown community of residents, students, workers, and visitors.
Prompt
How can the A&E Atlanta digital platform become more interactive and simultaneously provide meaningful and exciting content authentic to downtown? What innovative technology can be employed on the screens to produce an interactive opportunity with pedestrians?

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