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The MARTA rail line has a station at the west end of the Atlanta airport. For $2.50 plus the cost of your card (.50 for a temporary card, $5 for a permanent card), you can ride to downtown in under 30 minutes. You can also go directly to Midtown, Buckhead, Decatur, Doraville or the Perimeter Mall area. It takes less than 45 minutes to get to Perimeter Mall. During rush hour, it could easily take over an hour in a taxi or car.
To use MARTA, you will purchase your card at one of many easy-to-use machines at the station entrance, then tap your card at the turnstile to enter the transit area. Be sure to keep your card handy, as you will need to tap it again to exit the station.
Once you've left MARTA, a number of other transit systems can give you access to more remote areas.
Additionally, if you're within Atlanta, you can use Google Maps to plan out your route and destination via MARTA buses or trains. Just look for the link to Get Directions to your destination, then choose your method of transportation, whether auto, mass transit, walking or bicycling.