The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) board of directors adopted the Fiscal Year 2014 Operations and Capital Budgets, which will take effect July 1.
The proposed FY14 Budget allocates $426.9 million for operations and $430.5 million for capital programs, including $141.1 million for debt service. The budget plan preserves existing transit service and avoids 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 board is very optimistic about the budget and our future sustainability,” said Frederick L. Daniels Jr., chairman of the MARTA board of directors. “The budget puts us on a forward path, and our management team will continue to assess and make recommendations on how to best address the challenges before us in ways that will ultimately strengthen MARTA as a whole.”
The budget adoption process included a series of public hearings in May that solicited community feedback. 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).
The current budget proposal also anticipates some significant cost savings, healthcare reforms, and outsourcing opportunities previously recommended by the consulting firm KPMG aimed at making the transit system more effective and efficient.