Crazy train: Would you take a Maglev to see Braves?

Hopefully no one will be "goin' off the rails on a crazy train" if this thing becomes a reality. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Hopefully no one will be "goin' off the rails on a crazy train" if this thing becomes a reality. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Was Chipper Jones’ batting music a talisman of the future?

Those with working ears and short-term memory cells may recall the Braves slugger approached the plate with Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’ blaring.

Now, there’s talk afoot of a Maglev (floating magnetic train) line to Turner Field from the Georgia State MARTA station. My pals at MyAJC have a story with the details, which you can read free today.

As a fan of baseball and pretty much anything that appear to float magically, I think the idea is very cool, but the part of me that I sometimes refer to as my “brain” thinks it would become an economic albatross.

As a young man, I visited various cities and was enamored with public transportation. New York, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Madrid, all had pretty sweet subway systems. Madrid and D.C. were especially nice because you could walk great distances in those cities and not feel like you are fixin’ to become a hood ornament.

Seattle had a cool bus system, and it was free from what I recall, in the downtown area. They have a monorail, which was not very long but probably did spur development along its path. I stayed with friends who had an apartment in a high-rise that had windows overlooking the monorail. Voyeurs would have really liked that view.

The proposed Atlanta Maglev would cost an estimated $30 million, but I’d be surprised if it hit that target. Maglev, despite 20 years of trying, has never launched train service in the U.S.

The Braves are all for it and would pitch in $500,000 per year to subsidize operations. The owner of the local nine, Liberty Media, has deep pockets (market cap of $17 billion) and could probably swing that.

The proposed line would take 18 months to complete. Each train would transport 250 people to the stadium in a mere 90 seconds. Recalling some of my long walks from the downtown AJC offices to Turner Field, that seems like a miracle.

The Braves shuttle, operated by MARTA, delivered 128,732 passengers to games in 2012.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea?

How does this compare to the streetcar project?

Here are my thoughts:

Pros:

  • It would be cool!
  • It may encourage development of the Turner Field area. Maybe the old Fanplex building can become the Maglev gift shop!
  • If the Braves want it, they should get it.

Cons:

  • It would be expensive and never be profitable, in my opinion.
  • If Turner Field is not a big enough magnet for development, this train won’t be either.
  • The Braves spent how much on B.J. Upton?
  • Hasn’t the Auburn Avenue streetcar project used up Atlanta’s “bad idea of the decade” token already?
  • No one has told me what this will cost ME, yet.

16 comments Add your comment

Lay-Z

August 19th, 2013
9:44 am

That proposed distance is only a 20-minute walk, tops.

Do we really need to invest million$$ in a train for such a short distance? Really?

How LAZY are we now in this country?

ATL Born and Raised

August 19th, 2013
9:45 am

If it’s privately funded then what’s the problem? Personally, I would love to see a rail project of some kind down the I-75 corridor from Smyrna/Vinings/Marietta connecting to downtown.

ATL Born and Raised

August 19th, 2013
9:49 am

@Lay-Z A 20-minute walk through some rather sketchy areas of town. And some people aren’t capable of walking that distance.

I don’t see the problem in the double connection, really, as you already have to make one from the train to the bus at Five Points to get to the game as is. At least this way you don’t have to walk through Underground Atlanta and the Maglevs can hold more people than a bus.

Lay-Z

August 19th, 2013
9:53 am

ATL Born and Raised,

I don’t like politicians, either, but I really wouldn’t consider walking by The State Capitol, over a bridge atop I-285 and by the Braves parking lot$$ a truly “sketchy” part of town.

Lay-Z

August 19th, 2013
9:55 am

CORRECTION:

a bridge atop I-20 (not I-285)

Lay-Z

August 19th, 2013
10:07 am

As we have seen with virtually every other bus and rail station inside I-285, the only real magnetism that proposed train would demonstrate is the attraction of aggressive, jive talking panhandlers to the areas near the platforms to harass Braves fans or the *CHANGE* they were promised by their White House messiah.

zeke

August 19th, 2013
10:24 am

What for? So you can take away more parking spaces? You need to increase parking to allow fans to get to the game! This is part of the idiocy of building such venues downtown! Move the Braves and Falcons outside of the downtown area to an intersection on either 285 or 85 and give fans a break!

The trolley and the Beltline are idiot projects costing the taxpayers billions with no return! Why would you add to that with this dumb ass scheme!

(the other) Rodney

August 19th, 2013
10:35 am

Six of one, half a dozen of the other in my opinion – I recently took MARTA to a game with two senior citizens, two children under 8, and three 40-somethings. Getting on the train at Lenox, and getting off at Five Points was no big deal.

The hike through Underground, and the near 45 minute wait in line for a bus was nearly intolerable, but we all agreed it was better than driving – probably.

HOWEVER – returning to the Lenox Station after the game was pure torture. We waited, in line, for a train nearly an hour and a half. In the Five Points station. With no circulating air. Watching train after train come (actually, with MARTA’s schedule, it was only about three trains) and us never able to push our way onto the train.

So – Maglev or not, if crowd control and the logistics thereof aren’t considered, *I* will be a drivin and a parkin at the next game I attend.

@@

August 19th, 2013
10:44 am

You’re only exhibiting one deserving “pro”:

It may encourage development of the Turner Field area.

and then discounted it with a “con”:

If Turner Field is not a big enough magnet for development, this train won’t be either.

The cons win.

MANGLER

August 19th, 2013
11:31 am

If we’re going to upgrade to a newer technology than traditional trains on rails, then let’s go for it. Too many people here say no it will cost money. Well yes, things cost money. Lets see something fun and useful, only it would need to be more than just to connect a MARTA station to the stadium. That will surely kill it’s viability. Would it even operate when there wasn’t a game? It would need to be multiple trains for game crowds. 250 a trip … what’s the turn-around? 1 train wouldn’t be much better than a few buses (which already exist). Extend it to the GWCC, and the airport. Go on up on Peachtree a ways, perhaps Atlantic Station or even Buckhead. Make it fast. Really fast. That will get riders. Not just a nice view.

Host versus parasite

August 19th, 2013
11:37 am

Giant government subsidy to yet another well-connected business. If the Braves think a train is needed, let them fund it. The same goes for the overpriced stadium for the Falcons.

itsmeagain

August 19th, 2013
3:49 pm

How can one complain at something fully funded without any taxes? These people complaining about government subsidies and it costing them money, did they read the part of the article that says “at no cost to taxpayers” (i just copied and pasted that from the myajc.com article). At worst, this is a line that only acts to shuttle patrons to and from Turner Field and kids to and from campus. At best, it spurs development around Turner Field. It also could be built off in the future to extend rail into Grant Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. It could also showcase Atlanta for being the first city to use a technology not yet found in America. And right now, this is being proposed at no cost to the tax payer. And still people complain about it costing them money. I assume those are the same uneducated types who are trying to block the bridge Canada wants to build to the US at no cost to US taxpayers. Seriously, it blows my mind.

DB

August 19th, 2013
5:26 pm

The only commercially-operating Maglev is in Shanghai, China, and is used as a quick way to reach Pudong International Airport from the outskirts of Shanghai. It can reach speeds of up to 430 km an hour (that’s 268 mph), and makes a 19 mile trip in about 6 minutes, whereas it would take almost 40 minutes via the Metro train (like MARTA). A trip costs 50 RMB, which is about $8 US.

I’d much rather see a MagLev running from North Atlanta to the Atlanta airport — can you imagine how nice it would be to get to the airport from the northern suburbs in less than 10 minutes?! Having one that runs to Turner Field for occasional baseball games would be a waste of resources.

Bumper

August 19th, 2013
5:39 pm

“How does this compare to the streetcar project?”

The Maglev at least would go someplace that a lot of people want to travel to, not so sure the same can be said for the streetcar.

Bob L

August 20th, 2013
5:26 pm

Another Con – North End does not end at 5-Points, one station east. Requiring many to transfer.

I agree that the $30,000,000.00 will not build the system.

Braves do not play every day, most like less than 100 days a year. The AJC article states that Cobb County must Guarantee 35,000 daily riders. Quick math assume 200 work days times 35,000 is 7,000,000 where the braves have about 130,000 riders at $2.50 one-way. Most likely then Cobb county will be responsible for at least $10 million a year, most likely more, this is a lot greater than the half-million dollars the Braves will pay! Does this answer “If it’s privately funded then what’s the problem?”

If it is such a great idea, why does the Government have to subsidize it? Same thing with the HSR from Las Vegas to Nowhere (Victorville) that wants Government guarantees. (The hardest part of driving is driving to Victorville, and based where one lives in the Los Angeles Region could be a 100 mile drive.)

I’m not anti-Maglev, but dumb systems like this will do more harm than good in promoting Maglev.

Bob

MARTA fan..sort of

August 25th, 2013
10:41 am

The last leg to Turner Field, currently the bus shuttle, is not the problem. I think it’s fast and efficient, dropping us right off at the front gate. But when my wife and I left last Saturday night in the 8th inning against the Nationals it took us 1.5 hours to get back to North Springs as MARTA rail was single tracking on Saturday night! I lose the battle of trying to sell my wife on MARTA. I’m trying to save fuel, and decrease congestion on the roads, but every time we take it, it slows us down rather than make things easier!