Some Perspective on the MARTA Fare Increases
A great deal of issues are being raised in regards to transportation and its future in Atlanta, and in particular, MARTA. Issues of fare increases, crime, expansion, funding, and the referendum are all hot topics right now. While I know many visitors to this website are returning MARTA supporters, it is my hope that some of these “Perspective” pieces, might be read by someone still on the fence.
As we all know MARTA is proposing a fare increase, which would ultimately bring the price of a trip to $2.50. Unpleasant as we all know, no one likes price increases for anything. Aside, people need to know where the blame for this should truly be placed and where MARTA stands in comparison to other systems in terms of funding and fare structure. As many people have stated MARTA is the largest transit system to not receive state funding. That creates quite a financial hole that needs to be filled. So with that being said, where does MARTA fit in with other systems, in regards to fares, while keeping in mind that they are the only system amongst these without state support?
New York City – Trip – $2.50 Monthly – $104
Chicago – Trip – $2.25 Monthly – $86
San Francisco – Trip – $1.75-$4.85 No Monthly
Boston – Trip – $2.00 Monthly – $59
Los Angeles – Trip – $1.75 Monthly $75
Washington – Trip – $1.95-$5.00 No Monthly
Pittsburgh – Trip – $2.25 – $3.25 Monthly – $90
(plus cash surcharges)
Philadelphia – Trip – $2.00 Monthly – $83 – $191 (Complicated fare structure based on zones)
Charlotte – Trip – $1.75 Monthly $70
Atlanta – Trip $2.50 Monthly $95
While at the high end on a per trip basis, its monthly value is better than New York, Charlotte, (minimal rail system hardly justifies $70 for a very substandard bus system) San Francisco and Washington, (where they use distance based fares where a one way trip can cost you as much as $5.00) and is nearly parallel to that of Chicago and Pittsburgh. And these systems are offered state funding. Simply put, MARTA’s fares are fair when you take into account its lack of state support and when placed in comparison with other systems and their fare structures. So if upset is what some of us want to be over the fare increases that’s understandable, but MARTA should not be looked at as some careless corporation who is gouging for larger profits when they are in line with other systems. If we want to place blame for the increase in general, look to your state political leaders for denying MARTA the appropriate funds and support which lead to these increases. And if either way you want to complain and point the finger at MARTA, at least be constructive and offer alternative solutions that could help fix the problem. You never know who might be listening.
While I know it has been done before lets also look at the comparison of using MARTA versus owning your own automobile. A recent study said the average household in Atlanta spends $4,200 a year on gas. Let’s assume that their assumption is for a two car household and divide it by two. That is still $175 per month just for fuel. Add in oil changes, inspections, registrations, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and if your car is not paid off, a car payment. Here is a slightly more detailed breakdown on the yearly costs of car ownership:
Fuel – $2100
Registration – $18
Insurance – 12@$50.00 (Assuming you are a very safe driver)
Oil Changes – 3@$25.00 (Assuming you only drove 10,000 miles a year)
Inspection – $20.00
Taxes – $100 (Assuming you had a rather inexpensive car)
Repairs – $500 (Assuming your car was well maintained and of good quality)
Car Payment – $200 (Assuming you drive a Kia, used, and not a Range Rover)
When broken out over the course of a year the cost of automobile ownership is $109 a month and that does not include fuel or car payment.Add fuel and that total jumps to $284 per month. Have a car that you are still paying off? Be prepared to shell out a whopping $484 dollars a month to move yourself around. And those are based off some very lofty assumptions that our sample suspect would be a frugal and safe automobile owner.
Even with MARTA fare increases it is still nearly 1/5th the cost of owning your own automobile. So before you go running off to Carmax, like I have heard so many people say they will do if fares go up, remember that the $27 more a month you would have paid on an increased monthly pass is not even a week’s worth of gas on that automobile you will probably have to pay at least $500 a month for. And if you think the decision is really tough, ask yourself the same question I asked myself shortly after giving away my car. Do I really want to throw away hundreds upon hundreds of dollars per month so I could sit in this traffic, pay to park, make myself frustrated, all while not getting anything personally beneficial from it? Hmmm now what to do with all that extra money………..