By David Pendered
MARTA’s board of directors hopes that no across-the-board fare hikes or service reductions will be required to balance its budget for its next fiscal year, the executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority told her board Wednesday.
If MARTA’s board can stick to that plan, the only fare hikes that will go into effect this year, on Oct. 7, would be in three areas already slated for increases: Half-fares, up a nickle; One-way mobility pass, up 20 cents; Mobility pass, up $6. Those hikes were approved in 2010 as part of a three-year phased package.
MARTA has scheduled four public hearings on its proposed budget: Two on May 15 (Sandy Springs and Decatur); and two on May 17 (Atlanta City Hall, College Park).
A question about the fate of MARTA fares and service levels has lingered since the state Legislature decided this year not to address MARTA’s funding formula. A temporary measure that adjusted the formula for three years expires June 30, 2013.
“I’m pleased and happy with the board’s approach, considering that the 50/50 was not lifted,” said Jannine Miller, GRTA’s executive director. Miller is a non-voting member of MARTA’s board.
State law now requires that the 1 percent sales tax for MARTA that’s collected in Fulton and DeKalb counties be split 50/50 between operations and capital investments.
The General Assembly decided not to remove the restriction by choosing to reject a bill to that effect.
MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris said Wednesday that MARTA’s board has vowed to avoid service reductions and an across-the-board fare increase. Harris said any shortfalls in the budget for the upcoming year will be absorbed within areas that do not directly affect passenger service.
The fare increased that are planned to go into effect were approved in 2010 as a three-year phased approach. The rates that would go into effect on Oct. 7 include:
Reduced fare (Half-Fare) – Current, $0.95; Proposed, $1
Mobility Base (One-Way) – Current, $3.80; Proposed, $4
Mobility Pass – Current, $122; Proposed, $128.