WABE News

MARTA Says Loss of Spending Flexibility Won’t Impact Fares, Service

This summer, a controversial state requirement imposed on MARTA will be reinstated for the first time since 2000.

It’ll mean less flexibility for the agency, but MARTA officials insist riders don’t have to worry about higher fares or service cuts.

The spending requirement is commonly referred to as the 50/50 split because no more than half of MARTA revenue can go to bus and train operations. The other half must be set aside for infrastructure improvements.

MARTA had been exempt from the 50/50 requirement for years, but this past legislative session MARTA and state lawmakers failed to reach a deal to renew the exemption.

MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris says riders won’t be affected.

“Right now immediately in the coming year the impact is nominal. We’re not looking at a fare increase.”

As for the long-term, the agency projects sales tax revenue will rebound from the recession. Harris hopes that will offset the return of the 50/50 requirement.

He adds the agency is also looking into generating new revenue and outsourcing some services to private companies.

“We are looking at sourcing opportunities so that we can lower the cost of doing business. And we’re also looking at revenue generation: more advertising, in station concessions, those sorts of things.”

The agency, however, is facing challenges. It’s one of the only major transit agencies in the country with declining ridership. It’s also facing a deficit of more than 30 million this year.

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