MARTA Earns Upgraded ‘AA’ Credit Rating
MARTA has received an upgrade in its bond credit rating given by Fitch Ratings after demonstrating a sustained maintenance of liquidity and financial resilience. Fitch upgraded MARTA’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and outstanding sales tax revenue bonds to ‘AA,’ signifying the Authority is unlikely to default on its debt repayments.
“As MARTA fortifies its workforce and builds post-pandemic ridership, sales tax revenue remains our dominant revenue source. This excellent rating from Fitch reflects MARTA’s low long-term liability burden and prospects for continued long-term sales tax revenue growth,” said MARTA Interim General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood.
“Strong sales tax performance, combined with federal aid have enabled MARTA to manage well through the pandemic induced downturn, providing the Authority with ample time to gradually implement planned budget adjustments to cover future potential funding gaps,” added MARTA Chief Financial Officer Raj Srinath.
Fitch based its rating upgrade on MARTA’s broad and resilient economic resource base and growing service area population, both of which are expected to support strong overall revenue growth. The credit rating report goes on to state that MARTA’s expenditure flexibility is solid with strong control over service levels and staffing balanced against moderate fixed costs and a complex collective bargaining environment.
“This rating reflects MARTA’s fiscal responsibility and sound budget management,” said MARTA Board of Directors Chair Rita Scott. “During this period of economic recovery, my fellow board members and I will continue to ensure MARTA is a good steward of its revenue, implementing a comprehensive financial plan and maintaining healthy reserves.”
MARTA’s fiscal year 2023 operating budget shows a 5.6 percent increase in net operating expenses over the fiscal 2022 budget to $587.6 million and includes no fare increase. The budget assumes a 4 percent increase in labor costs, uses the remaining $140.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and forecasts a $65 million surplus, or 10.6 percent of net operating expenses.