MARTA Public Hearings Set May 16 & 17

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    By Special to the Daily World
    In a series of public hearings scheduled May 16 and 17,  MARTA will present its proposed Fiscal Year 2012 operating budget of $413.76 million, a capital budget totaling $185.5 million and $143.7 million in debt service.  The hearings on May 16, will start at 6 p.m., and May 17, at 7 p.m.

    The MARTA Board recently approved the proposal, which is focused on maintaining long-term financial sustainability, preserving transit service and state-of-good-repair, enhancing some bus routes and implementing new security initiatives.

    In order to stabilize MARTA’s financial condition and maintain current service levels for customers, a number of internal and external recommendations are being proposed.

    External recommendations include a base fare increase from $2 to $2.50, with weekly and monthly pass price increases. In addition, the proposal includes the continuation of staggered increases for Mobility base fare, reduced fare and Mobility passes as indicated in the previous, FY 2010 base fare increase. Mobility base fare, reduced fare and Mobility passes will not be impacted by the proposed FY 2012 base fare increase.

    Internal recommendations in the proposed budget include no annual merit or wage increases for non-represented and represented employees, which would be the fourth year in a row.

    Despite recently projected increases in MARTA’s sales tax over the next 10 years, the Authority’s finances have been negatively impacted by the overall economic downturn. With no new funding sources on the horizon this fiscal year, MARTA is proposing these changes now to avoid any additional service cuts and to ensure metro Atlanta’s prospects for expanded regional transit in the future.

    The MARTA Board of Directors invites the community to provide feedback on the proposed budget during its upcoming public hearings.

    At the hearings, MARTA staff will provide an overview of the proposed fare and pass price increases, service improvements to bus routes 3, 25, 50, 51, 99, and 181, and enhancements to security initiatives.

    If approved by the Board of Directors as part of the FY 2012 budget, bus service enhancements would be implemented Sept. 24, 2011, and fare changes would take effect Oct. 2, 2011.

    Copies of the proposed budget, fare changes, and service modifications are available for review at MARTA’s Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, during regular business hours, Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon, and on the MARTA website, http://www.itsmarta.com.

    A summary of the proposed budget, fare changes and bus service modifications can be requested by leaving a message on MARTA’s comment line, 404-848-5299.

    The proposed budget will also be available for public inspection an hour before each hearing, and MARTA staff will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.

    Patrons may request information in an accessible format by calling MARTA’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity at 404-848-4037. For patrons requiring further accommodations, information can be obtained by calling the Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 404-848-5665. In addition, a sign language interpreter will be available at all hearings.

    People unable to attend the hearings can provide comments regarding the FY 2012 budget to MARTA’s Office of External Affairs through May 27, by calling 404-848-5299, writing to 2424 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, 30324-3330, completing an online comment card at http://www.itsmarta.com/webcomments.

    aspx, custserv@itsmarta.com or faxing comments to 404-848-4179.

    The MARTA Board of Directors will vote on the final budget on June 6. A community exchange will be held at all public hearings from 6 p.m.-7 p.m.The hearings will be held on Monday, May 16, 6 p.m. at South Fulton Service Center at 5600 Stonewall Tell Rd., College Park and Fulton County Government Center, 141 Pryor St., on Tuesday, May 17, 7 p.m., at the Maloof Center, 1300 Commerce St. in DeKalb and Fulton County Government Center on Pryor Street.

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