By Special to the Daily World
The MARTA Board of Directors today voted to approve its Fiscal Year 2012 Operating and Capital Budgets which include a base fare increase from $2 to $2.50, some bus service improvements, system-wide security enhancements and safety and state-of-good-repair initiatives. The Board adopted an Operating Budget of $413.76 million, a Capital Budget totaling $185.5 million and $143.7 million in debt service.
“This has been a very difficult decision for the Board because, as a service-based industry, we do not want to make changes that have a negative impact on our customers,” said MARTA Board Chairman Jim Durrett. “Unfortunately, the economic downturn has taken its toll on MARTA’s finances, and with the cost of doing business continuing to go up, a fare increase is required in order to maintain current bus and rail service levels for our customers.”
Chairman Durrett went on to say that the MARTA Board has worked to reduce internal costs — cutting $100 million from its budget over the past three years – and raise additional revenues through innovative vending and advertising programs.
“We commit to our customers that our available resources will be focused on providing top quality transit service that is safe and customer-focused,” said Durrett. “As we move forward, we ask our customers to work with us to secure a new dedicated and reliable source of funding so that we can improve and expand transit service in this region.”
After hearing from more than 260 community members during the public hearing and comment process, the MARTA Board adopted a budget focused on stabilizing MARTA’s financial condition and maintaining current service levels. Along with the base fare change, the cost of weekly and monthly passes will increase. MARTA will also continue to stagger increases for Mobility base fare, reduced fare and Mobility passes based on the previous FY 2010 base fare increase. Mobility base fare, reduced fare and Mobility passes will not be impacted by the FY 2012 base fare increase. Fare changes will be implemented on Oct. 2, 2011.
The approved bus service enhancements on routes 3, 25, 50, 51, 99, and 181 will take effect Sept. 24.
In addition, internal cost-cutting measures were approved. For the fourth year in a row, non-represented and represented employees will not receive annual merit or wage increases.
For more information about the FY 2012 budget, please visit http://www.itsmarta.com or call 404-848-5000.