Monday, April 29, 2013

MARTA proposed FY14 budget avoids fare increase in 2014

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has proposed a Fiscal Year 2014 Budget that will preserve existing transit service and avoid a previously projected 25-cent fare increase as part of a five-year strategy to stabilize the agency's finances, improve the overall customer experience and build employee morale.

The draft budget, which allocates $426.9 million for Operations and $430.5 million for Capital Programs, including $141.1 million for Debt Service, was presented April 25 to the MARTA Board of Directors' Business Management Committee. The board will vote on the final budget before the 2014 Fiscal Year, which begins July 1.

Keith Parker, MARTA's general manager and CEO, called the proposed budget a "road map" to transforming the transit agency for long-term fiscal sustainability by implementing efficiencies, making the system more attractive to all customers and positioning it for future growth and expansion by changing public perceptions.

"There is very good news in this budget," Parker said. "We are moving forward with initiatives that will put our financial house in order with no new sources of funding. At the same time, our goal is to make people feel safer when they're riding MARTA and offer them great customer service from employees who are proud to work here."

Some of the budgetary highlights slated for FY14 and beyond include:

• Re-opening rail station restrooms that had been previously closed to customers (FY15)

• Implementing a zero-tolerance policy against, "knucklehead behavior" (FY14)

• Restoring some transit service (FY17)

• A "secret shopper" program to monitor and improve customer service (FY14)

• A one-time incentive payment for MARTA employees who have worked without raises for eight years (FY14)

In order to achieve a balanced budget, incremental fare increases of 15-cents, 10-cents and 10-cents are possible between fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2018, respectively.

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