The first episode of American Makeover, a six episode series of short videos about sprawl in America, launched on YouTube today and its subject is Atlanta – a massive city that may have taken L.A.’s crown as car culture king.
The metropolitan area of Sprawlanta, as the video mockingly calls it, spans over 8,300 square miles with a population density of 629.4 people per square mile. Compare that to Greater Los Angeles (the five county region that makes up what we collectively call “L.A.”) which sprawls 4,500 square miles and has a population density of 3,667 people per square mile, according to U.S. Census data.
Like L.A., Atlanta has a burgeoning rail transit system (it’s about 11 years older than Metro Rail) with 48 miles of track and 38 stations. But overall transit ridership (bus and rail) is paltry when compared to L.A. – 482,500 daily riders versus L.A.’s 1,436,599 daily riders.
No doubt that the city’s sprawling form has much to do with this. And like L.A. and other agencies across the nation, Atlanta’s transit agency MARTA is facing a major budget crisis. Single trip fares on MARTA recently went from $1.75 to $2.00 and up to 30% of its service is on the chopping block.
It’s times like these where the New Urbanist message of the American Makeover series really hits home. Would a recession hurt as bad if we didn’t live in such sprawl?