ATLANTA – The Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority today passed a $770.7 million Operating and Capital Budget for Fiscal Year 2006, which begins on July 1, 2005.
In conjunction with their decision, the Board also passed a new policy requiring that an amount equivalent to 10% of the prior year’s operating budget be maintained in an operating reserve account.
"After careful thought and deliberation, this board has passed a budget that is responsible and that will allow us to continue to provide the best possible service to our customers through enhancements to our operations as well as modifications that will improve efficiencies in our bus, rail and paratransit service," MARTA Board Chairman Michael Walls said. "It is important to realize, however, that this action is no means the end of our efforts to both increase farebox revenues and streamline costs."
The approved FY06 Operating Budget of $323.5 million includes funding for additional customer service and safety initiatives, including the opening of the new Armour Yard Rail Services Facility, which will allow MARTA rail service to operate more efficiently. It includes changes to a number of MARTA’s existing fare programs as well as modifications to bus, rail and paratransit service.
Though a potential increase in MARTA’s base fares had been discussed throughout the FY06 budget process, the Board agreed with management’s final recommendation that changes to base fares be tied to the implementation of MARTA’s new smart-card based fare collection system, currently scheduled for mid-2006. At the recommendation of the Board Chair, an ad hoc committee will be formed to study future fare policy and bring further recommendations to the Board.
"This budget was perhaps the most challenging we have faced in the past five years," MARTA General Manager/ CEO Nathaniel Ford said. "While our ultimate goal is to achieve a budget that no longer depends on reserves, we want to move forward in a way that has the least amount of negative impact on our customers. This budget achieves an important balance between those two priorities."
The approved FY06 Capital Budget of $447.2 million includes funds for the continuation of a number of improvement programs including the automated fare collection system, renovation of all 48 miles of track, rehabilitation of 228 rail cars, acquisition of clean fuel buses, and numerous improvements to the MARTA system.
FY06 Operating and Capital Budget Highlights:
- Capital Expenditures – $447.2 million
- Net Operating Expenditures – $323.5 million
- Reserves required to balance budget – $15.9 million
- Reserves remaining – $43.9 million (at end of FY06)
- Reduction of maximum discount for business partnership program from 8% to 5%
- Increase in the price of visitor’s passes by $1 to $3 depending on the length of stay
- Increase in the cost of long term parking by $1, bringing daily charge to $4 or $7 (first 24 hours remain free)
- Charge of $1 each way for Braves and HiFi Buys shuttle service
- Budget includes:Changes to fare programs (to be implemented 1/1/2006)
- 4% across the board reduction in non-labor costs
- $2.5 million in increased electric costs resulting from recent Georgia Power rate increase
- $1.1 million in additional customer service initiatives
- Implementation of a new program that offers free fixed route service to qualified paratransit riders
- Modifications to service (to be implemented 7/1/2005)
- 21 bus routes impacted (no elimination of service)
- Implementation of peak and off-peak rail service
- Alignment of paratransit service to within ¾ mile of existing fixed route service
- Elimination of Six Flags shuttle service (to be implemented 1/1/2006)