All aboard! MARTA preps for its third civic hackathon

Last fall, MARTA undertook a yearlong strategic initiative to collaborate with Atlanta’s technology community to help create the next great thing in Atlanta transit. As part of that initiative, MARTA partnered with Sandbox ATL, Code for Atlanta, HackGT, and other community groups for a series of collaborations anchored by three 24-hour civic hackathons, each challenging participants to create prototypes that achieve one or both of two main objectives: to increase ridership on MARTA, and to improve the rider experience on MARTA.

The first hackathon kicked off last October with over 400 attendees and over half a dozen completed projects. The second hackathon went down in February, producing seven viable prototypes focused on leveraging data to improve the rider experience.

This journey took an unexpected detour when the I-85 bridge collapsed last spring. With unprecedented traffic jams and the tripling of commute times, MARTA was inundated with new or infrequent riders, and used the opportunity to identify ways to better serve that audience. Working with teams from the hackathon series, MARTA advanced two solutions to help measure parking deck availability. 

The MARTA Civic Tech Summit this June gave everyone the inside scoop on what it was like for MARTA and City of Atlanta officials to respond to that crisis, and gave attendees a glimpse at the newly minted tools MARTA was using to overcome its ongoing obstacles. You can watch the entire program in our Facebook Live archive.

The third hackathon takes place September 8-9 with an emphasis on the Rider Experience and Design Thinking. The team is inviting Atlanta's interaction design and user experience community to help bring human-centered design solutions to MARTA through three challenges:

  1. Improve the rider experience between two stations - You can choose any element of the rider experience between Midtown-Five Points or Midtown-Airport. We'll provide you with plans, photos, and other resources related to those stations. 
  2. Inform the MARTA mobile app roadmap - MARTA is reformulating its mobile apps based on concepts created in the previous two sprints. You can help shape and inform the roadmap for future versions. 
  3. Help riders view all aspects MARTA as a viable alternative - How can you help encourage infrequent riders become more frequent? How can you help railriders utilize bus options?

Do you love Atlanta? Want to make MARTA better? It's not too late to hop aboard this train. September's hackathon is your last chance to join hundreds of civic-minded Atlantans who have worked to improve MARTA this year. Sign up to get involved at