New MARTA GM Makes The Rounds

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MARTA plans to makes changes within and outside the rail and bus agency before asking Georgia lawmakers to spend major state dollars on the transit system.

Keith Parker, MARTA’s new General Manager, went before the State Senate Transportation Committee today. 

This was Parker’s chance to continue his introduction to state lawmakers and discuss the $740,000 audit KPMG has been conducting on MARTA at the agency’s request.

Parker told the committee audit recommendations will turn into a game plan aimed at lowering MARTA’s expenses among other initiatives. He also said he’ll work to change public perception about the transit system being unsafe. Parker also wants MARTA to explore private partnerships that could lead to more revenue.

“And then I think come to you and say we need your help if you want to take the agency from where it is right now to where we want it to be,” said Parker.

Parker says when he was running San Antonio’s transit system, the same strategy led to more than $150 million in state funding. He says when he was running Charlotte’s transit agency, the same approach led to hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding for Charlotte’s light rail system.

But will the ‘get our house in order’ strategy work in Georgia? Jeff Mullis chairs the State Senate’s Transportation Committee.

“He has high aspirations for us here in Georgia doesn’t he?” asked Mullis.

Mullis and other committee members are impressed with Parker. But the laughter was a sign of how difficult the committee and observers expect it will be for MARTA to get major state funding. That has been a 30 year old battle.

Parker remains optimistic. He left the Committee meeting early to meet with staff members in Governor Nathan Deal’s office.