If any of my blog readers are in the Atlanta area, please see below for an important article on something near and dear to my heart- the MARTA. I don't have a car, and also, I don't like pollution so public transportation is important. Sure, I may be too nervous to jump on a bus and get lost in a strange city, but people who do not have such bizarre mental issues need to get to work. Note: Following Text is an email from the Sierra Club, etc,etc.
ACTION ALERT Rally to Save MARTA! Volunteers Needed
SC&BEER Friends: Catherine Ross, former chair of GRTA, spoke eloquently at last Wednesday’s Sierra Club and Beer of the need to fully fund MARTA and other transit projects around Atlanta. From air pollution to equity to a sense of community—MARTA is extremely important to the fabric of Atlanta. Her timing was impeccable. This week service cuts were announced in all but 17 routes for MARTA buses. MARTA is facing a funding crisis that could lead to a forty percent cut in service over the next three years. As Ross said, “MARTA is literally dying on the vine.” Please join the efforts to save MARTA:
*Citizens for Progressive Transit kick-off for “Save MARTA” campaign
Thursday, April 1st
Old Councils Chamber in Atlanta City Hall
55 Trinity Ave, S.W.
Brief presentation on why MARTA is threatened, why MARTA should be preserved and what you can do to help.
*Starting Wednesday, April 14th
MARTA public meetings on service cuts
Evening meetings: place, time TBA
Volunteers needed to attend press conference and speak about how important MARTA is to our community. Please e-mail natalie.foster(at)sierraclub.org if interested.
*As smog alerts become serious this summer, more attention will be paid to the importance of transit. If you can’t make either of ithese events but are interested in volunteering during the summer months, please contact natalie.foster(at)sierraclub.org
How the Bush Administration weakens progress towards building environmental communities:
The current Bush Administration proposal on transportation would decrease funding available for transit while increasing money available for roads. This would create a perverse incentive for localities to build new roads, not new transit. In addition, the Administration's proposal keeps overall transit funding stagnant at 20 percent of total surface transportation dollars, while 80 percent of surface transportation dollars goes to roads, which is imbalanced. This also means that wealthier communities that can afford to pay will have a better shot at getting transit than poorer communities that need public transportation the most.More information found at http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/.
How the state of Georgia causes an unfair burden on Atlanta:
Fulton and DeKalb tax payers have been paying an extra penny sales tax to fund transit for over thirty years with no help from the State of Georgia. Meanwhile all the suburban counties receive state funding for their road programs. MARTA is a regional system providing service to people from many counties without regard to whether they help pay the sales tax for the system. Georgia is one of only ten states not providing financial support for urban transit systems. It is long past time for the State of Georgia to support urban transit service like they support nearly every other mode of transportation.
Press Release for Thursday Event:
Citizens for Progressive Transit Announces Kick-Off of
“Save MARTA” Campaign
On April 1st, 2004 Citizens for Progressive Transit (CPT) will launch the “Save
MARTA” Campaign. The meeting will be held at the Old Council Chambers in Atlanta
City Hall (55 Trinity Avenue, S.W., Atlanta, GA) at 6:00pm. There will be a brief
presentation on why MARTA service is threatened, why MARTA service should be
preserved, how MARTA service can be preserved and what individuals and organizations
can do to help “Save MARTA”.
“Regional funding is the key to any transportation system”, said Chris Wyczalkowski,
President of Citizens for Progressive Transit, “MARTA is running out of operating funds
and without a solution we will see major service cutbacks phased in over the next year.”
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority currently delivers public transportation
service to a service area of almost 500 square miles and averages one-half million riders
daily. MARTA operates 125 bus routes and 47.6 miles of rail making it the largest transit
agency in the Atlanta area. It is the backbone from which all other transit services radiate.
MARTA operates one of the largest clean fuel bus fleets in the country in a region that
has already lost its federal transportation dollars once by failing to meet federal air
quality standards. MARTA is the ninth largest transit agency in the country and is the
largest to receive no state operating funds.
Citizens for Progressive Transit is Atlanta’s independent, grassroots transit advocacy
organization with a mission to promote comprehensive, long-term improvements to
public transit in the greater Atlanta area. CPT represents the riders of public
transportation, those whose voice is often left out in the transportation policy-making
process. Citizens for Progressive Transit’s motto is “Putting the public back in public
transportation.” CPT is a member of the National Alliance of Public Transportation
Advocates, a national organization representing grassroots coalitions that support
increasing the investment in public transportation.
MARTA plans 15% cutback in bus service
By JULIE B. HAIRSTON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/25/04
MARTA plans to cut bus service by 15 percent this summer.
In restructuring the bus routes, the transit authority expects to eliminate 304 jobs and $11 million in expenses in the most sweeping change to MARTA service in more than 20 years.
And the cuts may be only the beginning of the public transit system's efforts to stem the flow of red ink in its $308 million operating budget.
MARTA expects to pull $30 million out of its dwindling reserves to run the trains and buses this year. Without cutting expenses or adding revenue, MARTA may use the last of its financial reserves as soon as 18 months from now.
Even as transit officials brace for a flood of criticism, MARTA board Chairman Michael Walls warned that even more cuts may be needed. An additional 10 percent reduction in service that may be required next year would be felt more directly by MARTA riders, he said.
"If something is not done before next year, the cuts will be more meaningful and more severe on our riders," Walls said.
MARTA also may consider increasing the current $1.75 basic fare if the system continues to lose money past fiscal 2006, the chairman said.
MARTA leaders will present their budget proposal to the board of directors Monday and outline the changes in bus routes.
The plan calls for eliminating four routes, combining others, removing stops that produce few riders and shortening hours on some runs. At present, 75 of MARTA's 125 bus routes run after midnight.
"A lot of those buses run empty," said Thelma Purnell, MARTA director of transit planning. Running empty buses costs $1.32 per mile, or $31 an hour, she added.
MARTA officials have been studying the bus routes for more than seven months, according to Purnell.
Over the years, MARTA officials said, bus routes have not always reflected changing land use and population shifts. In some cases, new lines have overlapped routes with waning ridership. Transit officials say the reconfiguration of bus routes will cover most of the stops with a minimum of vehicles.
"You may not have the same bus you're used to riding, but you're at least going to be within a quarter-mile of a MARTA bus," said General Manager Nathaniel Ford.
Even transit advocates acknowledge that MARTA's route structure is long overdue for an overhaul.
"With land use changing as fast as it is in the city, a lot of the routes don't make sense anymore," said Paul Grether, spokesman for Citizens for Progressive Transit, a transit riders' advocacy group. "We're hoping the resources that have been applied to these nonproductive routes can be redirected to routes with higher ridership potential."
On April 1, Citizens for Progressive Transit will launch what it's calling a "Save MARTA" campaign with a 6 p.m. meeting in the old City Council chambers at Atlanta City Hall. The organization is calling for new state or regional operating funds for MARTA, which receives no such revenue from the state.
Local funding for MARTA is provided by a 1 percent sales tax in Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta.
Public outcry expected
The authority has cut 727 jobs from its payroll in the past three years, according to Ford. The proposed reductions in service this summer will cut more than 300 drivers, mechanics and other workers. MARTA employs about 4,500 people.
Danny G. DuBose, acting president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732, declined comment on the pending job cuts.
The authority anticipates a wave of protest from the public.
"We do expect quite a few folks to be uncomfortable with this," Ford said. "We understand this is going to have a significant impact on people's lives and we're going to make it the best we can."
Helen McSwain, director of MARTA customer relations, said workers are anticipating as many as 2,000 additional calls a day as the service cuts are phased in. Customer service workers now get about 6,000 calls a day, she said.
Public hearings on the proposed changes in bus service will be conducted April 14, 15 and 16 at various locations in Fulton and DeKalb counties. A final decision is set to be made in June when MARTA officials adopt the fiscal 2005 budget. The new routes are expected to begin June 26.
Route 135 is one of 17 that will be eliminated or absorbed into other lines during the restructuring. Running six days a week, the North Shallowford bus snakes through suburban Dunwoody from the Chamblee MARTA station.
Dunwoody resident Ramon McCray, 42, said he rides the 135 "every single day" to get to his job at a furniture store, to the Veterans Affairs Hospital and to shopping for basics, including groceries. He said getting to any other MARTA bus routes would be a long walk for him.
"I paid my extra fare every time they raised it because I had confidence in their structure," McCray said. "If I'd known MARTA was going to do this, I'd never have moved to this area."
James Murphy, 50, hauled four large bags of groceries onto the 135 on Tuesday afternoon. He said he moved to the Dunwoody area from Snellville in December specifically because it offered a level of public transportation not available in Gwinnett County.
"If they cut this line, I'll have to move somewhere else," Murphy said.
Artesia Gates said this will be the second time she's been stung by MARTA. Previous changes in bus service forced Gates, then living in Stone Mountain, to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a bus to work, she said.
If the 135 route is canceled, she could be facing a $120 daily cab ride to work.
Little impact forecast
MARTA officials said only a small percentage of the 225,000 average daily riders will experience a noticeable change in their access to the system.
"The number that will be severely impacted is less than one-half of 1 percent," said Barry Farr, assistant general manager for operations.
"We've tried to avoid touching our customers [with cuts] for three years," said Ford.
Chairman Walls said he hopes the reductions in service will underscore the transit system's importance to hundreds of thousands of riders in metro Atlanta.
"We can't continue to go in the hole until all our reserves are gone," Walls said. "I hope the local metropolitan political establishment will let this be a wake-up call for what needs to be done to give MARTA adequate funding."