Monday, December 15, 2008

MARTA Revenue Falls Short

Despite a 12.4 percent increase in ridership for the third quarter of 2008, vs. 2007, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is facing a $60 million budget shortfall, the Atlanta Constitution reports. The weak economy and lower-than-forecast sales tax revenue are to blame. MARTA operates over 150 bus routes and four rail lines.
"A 1-percent sales tax paid in the city of Atlanta and in DeKalb and Fulton counties accounts for more than half of MARTA’s operating budget. Passenger fares account for about 30 percent, with remaining revenues from parking fees, leases, federal aid and other sources."
At a press conference today, MARTA officials said fare hikes, parking fees, service reductions and layoffs were all under consideration to help close the gap. General manager Beverly Scott is threatening "unbelievably draconian reductions in service," and is calling on the Georgia state legislature to ride to the rescue. MARTA is the largest public transit authority not receiving state operating aid. Already, the agency's board cancelled raises for MARTA managers and non-operating personnel and cut back discretionary spending. These moves could save $11 million.

The economy and budget shortfalls aren't MARTA's only problems. The agency hasn't invested adequately in its infrastructure over the past two decades.
"We have fallen seriously behind our peers, and it has caught up with us," [Board Chair Michael] Walls said. "We need to do everything that we can to favorably position MARTA ... for the national stimulus package being developed in Washington."

1 comment:

  1. Well, given a choice between capital and operational expenditures, I'd take operations right now, and tell Michael Wall to take a hike.

    We do need infrastructure investment, but half of that $.01 sales tax is 1.) too much money out of what could be providing service, and 2.) not enough for the infrastructure demands of the region, anyway.