MARTA presents contract amendment to member governments
MARTA marked 40 years of bus and rail service this year. Credit: Kelly Jordan
By Maggie Lee
MARTA is asking for an update to its fundamental agreement with Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Atlanta. Attached to the agreement is a list of priorities that each government wants from its transit provider.
The agency needs the deal to be able to deliver service and capital programs because it extends the transit system’s basic penny sales tax for 10 years until 2057, said MARTA’s CEO and General Manager Jeff Parker at a Dec. 12 board meeting.
Right now, MARTA’s ability to collect all those pennies legally ends in 2047 — that date has always had to be extended periodically because government contracts in Georgia have to have some end.
But MARTA’s angling for an extension now so that it can sell 30-year bonds, borrowing at the cheapest rate.
Each of MARTA’s member jurisdictions has a list of “potential transit improvements” baked into the 22-page agreement approved by the MARTA board, the so called “Fifteenth Amendment to the Rapid Transit Contract and Assistance Agreement.”
DeKalb wants MARTA to put up a bus interchange in south DeKalb by 2023 along with restructuring routes to lead to it, in line with DeKalb County’s just-adopted Comprehensive Transit Master Plan. And MARTA is also to support “conceptual planning of feasibility of bus rapid transit on I-285 and I-20.”
But overall, the lists of “potential transit improvements” won’t surprise anyone who watches transit closely. Mostly, it’s just incorporating things that jurisdictions have already decided to do: MARTA’s build-out in Clayton County is to continue; in Atlanta, extending light rail and setting up new bus service will continue, and Fulton is progressing with bus rapid transit in the north and south.
For the Fifteenth Amendment to take effect, it must get approval within 60 days from at least three of its four member jurisdictions — Atlanta, Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton.