Welcome to 2011
Today was a special MARTA board meeting which was called to vote on the budget of the fiscal year 2011. The budget passed and MARTA can officially operate for another year. However, they’ll be operating with the more stringent cuts they have made since they opened shop 30 years ago. These includes a drop from 1,479 service miles to 1,034, a 10.2% reduction in bus service hours, and a 30.5% reduction in bus routes, from 131 to 91 routes. That, folks, is significant.
On top of the bus cuts, there is a 14.2% reduction in rail service and 96 rail cars will be retired (34 buses will be retired, but those were already due to go because of fat regulations). The Lenox and Lindbergh ride stores will close and the station agent force will be reduced from 131 to 60. You will literally see half of the station agents around now. 743 positions will be eliminated in MARTA, non represented employees will continue to take unpaid furloughs, and all employees will have to pay more for their benefits while not receiving a pay increase.
The focus of this new budget is for MARTA to “live within its own means.”. But what does that mean, anyways? How did MARTA get to a position of needing to cut so much?
Transit systems around the nation are making service cuts, from DC to San Francisco. It’s a nationwide epidemic. People don’t realize that transit isn’t self-sustaining. Your fare doesn’t pay for your seat on the train. MARTA needs support from the state. To have one of the top ten largest systems in the nation not get any state funding is simply a disgrace.
My props go out to the folks at MARTA and the board members for all of their dedication.
How do I get on the board, anyways? I’m going to start a campaign….