MARTA released its proposed FY2011 budget this morning and the accompanying service cuts. The service cuts are not as drastic as previously proposed. This good news assumes that the Governor signs the transportation bill, which lifts the 50/50 restriction on MARTA’s sales tax revenue. Increases in sales tax projections are allowing MARTA to borrow more capital funds, freeing up existing funds for operations. Even with these changes, MARTA will be using $70 million of its reserve fund to balance the 2011 operations budget. The reserve fund is scheduled to be depleted by 2013.
Overview of Proposed Changes
Bus service hours will be reduced 11% and service miles will be reduced by 32.6%. The number of bus routes will go from 131 to 90. In addition, the Braves and Lakewood Shuttles will be eliminated. Full route changes are here.
Rail service hours will be reduced by 15%. The hours of operation will remain the same but peak frequency on all lines will be 15 minutes. In addition, after 7pm all lines will have shorter trains, the Red (North Springs) trains will end at Lindbergh, and Green (Bankhead) trains will end at Vine City.
The cost of monthly and weekly passes will increase to $68 and $17.
The budget for MARTA Mobility, paratransit service, is up 13% due to growing demand. The price of a Mobility monthly pass will increase to $115.
Other changes include shorter call center hours, the closing of all station bathrooms outside of 5 Points Station, and elimination of the Ride Stores at Lenox and Lindbergh.
743 MARTA positions are being eliminated. Currently 351 are vacant, leaving 392 people who will be laid off. 306 are union employees and 86 are non-represented. No MARTA employee will receive a wage increase (for the third year in a row). In fact MARTA employees are taking wage decreases since their share of health benefits have increased and there are mandatory 10 furloughs for non-represented employees.
Timeline on Changes
Public hearings on the changes will take place on June 7th and June 8th.
The MARTA Board will vote to approve the budget on June 28th.
Service changes will take place September 25, 2010 and fare increases on October 1, 2010.