Transit from Atlanta airport to a remote North Georgia mountain town
February 26, 2017 10:34 PM   Subscribe

North Georgia shuttle service? Any option I'm missing? Hoping to travel 124 miles without a car, from Atlanta airport to a town far from public transit, at a specific time, at a cost lower than $220+ cab fare. (List inside of every option I could find.)

Mid-afternoon weekday transit from Atlanta airport to a tiny North Georgia mountain town (normal address, on a road) 124 miles away. I must finish this journey in about 4 hours, ideally less (google guesses it's a 2 to 2.5 hr drive), so I can't take the time to do partial public transit + cab.

- lowest quote after calling cab services is $185 before tip

- I've asked all the North Georgia area hiker/trail shuttles I could reach; they either aren't running at this time of year or are far enough from airport that cost would be higher than cab

- Lyft app did let me schedule a ride for that time and its estimated cost is $113, but after a long dialog w/ tech support, they cannot confirm a driver will actually undertake that trip until 45 mins before its start (and because it wouldn't be ethical to hedge this – to schedule a north georgian shuttle driver just in case Lyft flakes and then cancel on him/her with only 45 mins notice – I can't use Lyft unless I'm missing something about that logic)

- not interested in Uber

- no airport "shuttle service" I can find goes that far

- can't rent a car (don't drive)

- fares from the north endpoint of MARTA train are about the same, so it's def not worth taking the transit time to start from there.
posted by kalapierson to Travel & Transportation around Atlanta, GA (14 answers total)
I think your logic on Lyft is flawed - just add the destination and request the ride and see what happens. Your logic seems to work on only one Lyft driver considering the fare. That's not how it works. You will get someone who will take the ride, especially if you speak to the driver who stops and offer a cash tip ($20? $40?).

You can afford to spend some time (45 minutes to an hour) after you land playing this gamble with a few lyft drivers and if it doesn't come off, just take a taxi.
posted by Brockles at 10:50 PM on February 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd look into doing this as a two-stage journey: find the airport ride that gets as far as possible towards your destination along well-travelled roads, then try and arrange either a Lyft or local cab service for the remainder of the trip. So, as a kind of shorthand, if you were heading up towards NE GA (say, past Tallulah Falls) try to find a ride from ATL that gets you as far as Dahlonega or Cleveland or Helen, then rely upon the locals to get you deep into the mountains. (My gut sense is that Atlanta-based drivers will be more amenable towards getting you through the broader metro area, but more averse to the mountains, and vice versa for the mountain town cab drivers.)
posted by holgate at 12:16 AM on February 27, 2017 [5 favorites]

Lyft (and Uber) drivers don't actually see your destination until they arrive and start the trip, and people who pick up at the airport are expecting/hoping for relatively long rides. Since your destination is likely out of the service area, you can choose to be kind and text the driver regarding your destination as soon as you match so that they can cancel the ride if they don't want to do it. Someone will, especially if you offer an extra $20 to cover their gas back home.

Hopefully you have some sort of transportation back arranged, because that will likely be more difficult.
posted by wierdo at 1:14 AM on February 27, 2017

What town? My brother lives in Cumming GA. You could take Metro to the farthest north station (Northpoint?) and if he isn't working the day you need a ride he might be willing to do it for $100 or so. Send me a PM with the details and I'll check with him. He works 2nd shift so if it's early afternoon he might be available.
posted by COD at 5:39 AM on February 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe Groome transportation can get you close to your destination and then take a cab.
posted by tman99 at 6:23 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I came in to mention Groome Transportation as well. Depending on where you are going, they are going to be a good option.

If you need to go out 85 instead, MARTA's Northeast line will get you as far as Doraville, or if you can head out 400, as far north as Alpharetta (North Springs Station).

It will still be pricey but you can likely get a ride from either someplace Groome would drop you, Doraville, or North Springs, to your final destination. As with COD above, locals could give you more/better information if we knew the locality you were traveling to, as there are a lot of ways to get to "North Georgia."
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:28 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

There are three big roads heading north out of Atlanta - I-85 to the northeast, GA 400 / US 19 to the north, I-75 to the northwest. (I-85 and I-75 have branches, I-985 / US 23 and I-575 respectively.) Given your quoted distance of 124 miles, I'm guessing you're not heading up GA 400, because 124 miles in that direction puts you in North Carolina.

If you're heading out I-85, it might be worth looking into whether you can get a ride from Doraville station; I would imagine that someone who can pick you up would be more likely to come there than to come all the way to the airport at even a vaguely rush-hour-adjacent time, say anytime after 2:30 PM or so. (Atlanta traffic is not to be messed with.) Similarly for GA 400 (if I've guessed wrong) and North Springs station.

If you're heading out I-75, sadly, MARTA doesn't run that way.

The airport ground transportation web site has a list of "regional shuttles" which may be useful, although I don't see too many that actually get into the mountains. As people have said, it would be nice to know where you're trying to get to more specifically, especially if you want to do this as a two-step trip like holgate suggested.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:49 AM on February 27, 2017

It might be helpful to give a destination instead of making people guess.

GRTA Xpress buses go from midtown/downtown Atlanta MARTA stations (take MARTA rail from airport into Atlanta) as far north as Acworth (I-75), Canton (I-575), Cumming (GA-400) and Mall of Georgia (I-85/I-985). Uber or Lyft from there.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:08 AM on February 27, 2017

Given your quoted distance of 124 miles, I'm guessing you're not heading up GA 400, because 124 miles in that direction puts you in North Carolina.

It's about 100 miles from the I-85 exit at Clairmont Rd to the South Carolina border, so OP probably isn't going that way either.
posted by thelonius at 7:08 AM on February 27, 2017

Thank you for all these great thoughts that I'm just starting to read/digest due to today's travel! The destination is near Dillard, GA (virtually on the GA/NC border).
posted by kalapierson at 7:12 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Quick thoughts:

I'm wary of anything two-step (even Marta) due to possible delays, but I'm googling your suggestions, thank you

I don't know Georgia at all so I really appreciate the insights about its regions

and I also really appreciate the insights about Lyft (I'm a new user there)
posted by kalapierson at 7:19 AM on February 27, 2017

Okay, I know that drive fairly well. Getting out to the Mall of Georgia would improve your chances of a ride the rest of the way, and Gainesville or Cornelia would improve them even more. Gainesville is where I-985 stops, and that's a good rough dividing line between "outer metro Atlanta" and "up into the mountains".

Multi-stage journeys always introduce additional risk of being stuck (especially with Atlanta traffic) but this is a journey between very different areas where drivers from each end are going to have different comfort zones for how far they travel.
posted by holgate at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Because I'd rather solve someone's transportation problems than work: apparently there's a place called Fire Mountain between Dillard, GA and Highlands, NC. Their information on how to get there includes a section on transportation services which might give you some numbers to call.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

For anybody else googling this topic in the future, I can't say strongly enough how much I wish I'd just scheduled a shuttle rather than attempting Lyft (where both the humans and the app got multiple elements wrong and collectively wasted hours of my time before and on my travel day). I eventually ended up with a shuttle that wasn't too expensive but lost my evening.

Thank you to everybody and especially to COD and the others who tried pointing me toward non-Lyft options! Lesson learned!
posted by kalapierson at 7:26 PM on March 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

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