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MARTA CEO Seeking Greater Authority to Suspend Troublesome Riders

MARTA CEO Keith Parker
MARTA CEO Keith Parker
Credit MARTA

MARTA continues plans to crack down on what the transit agency’s CEO refers to as “knucklehead behavior.”

Keith Parker says few assaults and robberies actually occur on MARTA.

“It’s not so much that we’re having outlandish behavior. We’re just having uncivil behavior. People panhandling. People repeatedly playing music too loud. People…a little horseplay going on on the trains and busses and that sort of thing.”

To cut down on it, Parker wants to implement a new “code of conduct,” which will include new authority for MARTA to suspend and ban troublesome riders.

“What we’re talking about is mostly suspensions – that if you don’t behave yourself on the transit system you can be suspended for as little as one day or you could be suspended as much as a year.”

But some on MARTA’s state oversight committee are concerned the authority could be abused.

“The subjective standards…something is awfully troubling to me. On a mere accusation you have consequences. Just on a mere accusation,” said State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D – Stone Mountain) at a committee meeting Thursday.

State Sen. Vincent Fort (D – East Point) added his concern about the appeals process.

“The person is arrested, banned, but not convicted, what do you do with that person?” questioned Fort.

MARTA officials responded the person would have to file an appeal to have the suspension or ban lifted.

Fort said that was problematic, suggesting an innocent person shouldn’t have to be “pro-active” to file an appeal.  

After the meeting, Parker said the draft plan is based on similar policies in Seattle and Los Angeles. He added MARTA is still gathering feedback on the new code and will present its final plan to MARTA’s board next month. If approved, it would go into effect in October.