MARTA Board of Directors Requests Meeting With State’s Governor

ATLANTA — MARTA Board of Directors urged Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson to call a special session to “deal with” transportation and MARTA funding issues.

During their 2009 General Assembly, state legislators did not to pass what MARTA officials call “critical legislation providing regional or state transportation funding and lifting restrictions on the use of MARTA’s capital reserve funds,” MARTA contends. The Georgia General Assembly ended April 3, and during this year’s legislative session, MARTA officials petitioned state lawmakers to grant the authority access to $65 million in its capital reserve account to fund a significant gap in its operating budget.

“I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that MARTA be allowed flexibility to use its reserve account to fund operation of the system.  I commit to you that the MARTA Board is looking for all ways to cut expenses and run this system as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said MARTA Board Chairman Michael Walls. “We implore the state to please reconsider this issue so that during this difficult economic time we can keep this essential transportation service running, which acts as a lifeline for so many people.”

MARTA officials will present a proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget to its board of directors on April 28. At that time, MARTA officials say proposed recommendations will include internal productivity/cost containment measures of mandatory 10 day furloughs for non-represented staff, deferral of merit-based increases for non-represented employees, increasing the healthcare contributions of non-represented employees from 8 percent to 15 percent, and, reducing ‘other than personnel’ expenses such as advertising and travel.

Recommended external measures will include a fare increase and a long-term parking fee hike; core transit service modifications, which would consist of the elimination of all unproductive bus service, cancellation of some special events service, overhauling duplicative, overlapping service routes, and adjusting rail service headway and hours of service.  MARTA’s Mobility service would be adjusted consistent with changes to bus and rail, according to railroad officials.  In addition, more service cuts and employee layoffs are now likely.