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MARTA looking to raise fares again

May 11, 2011 Comments off

Here we go again. MARTA has decided it is going to ask riders to pay an additional .50 cents for a single trip on bus or rail. This comes less than a year after the last fare increase in October of 2010. The single ride fare will go up 25% to 2.50. A weekly pass and a monthly pass are both jumping by 40 percent. The weekly will go from $17 to $23.75. A monthly will jump from $68 to $95. These are pretty hefty spikes especially for people who are struggling to meet ends meet. These rates are getting close to the price of gassing up for a month. I get the need to increase fares to help cover operating costs, but this increase like the last will not come with any expanded service. As a regular user of the system, I find it pretty naïve to expect the public to foot another increase in fares with no changes in service or maybe even reduced services. I hope public comments will sway MARTA to shelve this thing for good or at least wait a couple of years before asking riders to pony up 25-50 percent more to ride. See the entire Press release here. Below is the proposed fare increase and the locations and times for public comment.

Proposed Fare Increases for FY2012

Fare Media

Current

Proposed FY2012

Base Fare

$2.00

$2.50

Reduced Fare

$.090

$0.95*

Mobility Base

$3.60

$3.80*

Weekly Pass

$17.00

$23.75

Monthly Pass

$68.00

$95.00

Mobility Pass

$115.00

$122.00*

TMA Discounts

0% to 10%

No Change

Children

Free with Adult

(Height Requirement 46” Max 2)

No Change

Public Hearings

(A community exchange will be held at all public hearings from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

Monday, May 16, 2011 at 7 p.m.

Fulton County Government Center

141 Pryor Street

Atlanta, GA  30303

Taking MARTA:  Bus route 49 from the Five Points Rail Station. Special bus shuttle will be provided.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 7 p.m.

DeKalb Maloof Auditorium

1300 Commerce Drive

Decatur, GA  30030

Taking MARTA: Walk one block west of Decatur Rail Station

A few thoughts: The snowbound edition

January 13, 2011 9 comments

South+WinterWeather=BAD

I get it and I totally understand the fact that Southerners and those of us who transplanted here many moons ago do not do well in bad winter weather. In fact I sympathize with the South because we get trounced as unprepared and unsophisticated because we have a difficult time dealing with and cleaning up bad snow weather. Citizens and visitors alike have to understand that we are just not prepared to handle what is basically a once a decade thing. If we were, we would have a bunch of equipment that sits around and gets outdated before it gets hardly any use. I am probably in the minority but I feel the state and the counties did about a good a job as they could have considering the circumstances. DeKalb reportedly has less than ten salt and sand spreaders and only two snow removal devices. Other counties in the metro are in the same boat. This is one time where I am not going to rail so hard on the county or the state for not being prepared. After all, if the county purchased more snow equipment we all would be howling how much the county squanders our tax dollars. Though I was surprised that by Thursday, there was still ice on some parts of the freeways, I was not complaining like so many around me. I guess I have come to resign myself to the fact that when we have atrocious winter weather this is the response we can expect. And we are not out of the woods yet.

I Love MARTA, but…

Why oh why did MARTA have limited bus service on Wednesday and today. Most people found a way to make it to work. I think that shortened routs or redirected routes would be preferable to nothing at all. The decision makers at MARTA must realize that the bus is a vital link for many folks to get not only to jobs, but to medical appointments, grocery stores and just to be able to get around. Monday and Tuesdays decision to cut bus service was reasonable, but Wednesday Could have been limited to major thoroughfares and retail districts. Most major roads on Wednesday were completely passable by then. I really have to wonder how much of this was MARTA employees not coming in to work because the road were “too bad” and how much was a concern for safety. Of all the people driving on the roads I put more faith in the ability of bus drivers and truck drivers than I do ordinary citizens. I also want to take MARTA to task for its rail schedule. The service was erratic even on Wednesday when MARTA should have been able to get a full complement of train operators. 20-25 minute waits on a train, a transfer and then another 10- 15 minute wait is horrible. This has not been a shining moment for MARTA, and add to that the two murders and the cut in service last year, MARTA is eroding what little public support it has remaining among those of us who have been solid supporters of MARTA over the years.

C’mon DeKalb Schools, make a decision already

DeKalb is always the last system to announce it will be closed because of bad weather. What are they contemplating? Are you afraid to be the first to close? I remember years ago when the school system closed based on a forecast of possible light snow/rain. They were the only system in the metro to close, and people questioned why they pulled the trigger to close schools before the weather event happened. It did not snow, it was a light cold rain. Check the conditions and if they do not meet your criteria for safety close the schools. A bad decision is a bad decision, you made it, you move on. I would not be at all surprised if that bad decision is still in the back of some people heads. By the way, I drove past two schools on my way to work, and both had parking lots with nothing but ice and the roads leading to them were nothing but ice. That decision could have been made early this morning.

Finally…

I don’t know about you, but I actually enjoyed the couple of days off this week. My wife and I had to use every bit of imagination to keep our 3 year old entertained. In this fast paced world of career and social media and just an overall sense of being busy, it was a time for all three of us to enjoy some time together. Although I think we do a pretty good job otherwise, it was refreshing that we had two days with just us three. Games, sledding, playing in the snow, movies and video games and even some flash cards made the two days go by quite well, and at the end of each day our three year old was ready to go to bed. Daycare has never been successful at doing that.

MARTA Rail along I-20 still a longshot

October 29, 2010 4 comments

I attended the last of the community meetings that MARTA was having to discuss the I-20 corridor last night, and came away with the following observations

There are three options on the table for better transit in south DeKalb; Heavy rail, Light Rail, and Bus Rapid Transit. I prefer a light rail alternative that will ferry folks within the corridor and connect to an existing MARTA rail station or a yet to be constructed multi-modal terminal in downtown.

There have been three studies that concentrated on the I-20 corridor in the past ten years. All three have been shelved. There have been an additional four studies that involved South DeKalb in one way or another in the last ten years. None have been acted on, and this study, though using some data from previous studies, will basically start over from scratch. I have to wonder whether anything will become of this latest study.

There are nearly 400,000 people in the corridor. In twenty years that number is projected to grow 26%. Sorry folks, but a few buses traveling the main roads is not going to cut it. Also, MARTA rail stations tend to bring positive development to areas in which they are located. You want to see better development opportunities in South DeKalb, improve the transit options.

A lot of the folk in the meeting were quite passionate about transit in the area. Many in attendance wanted better options for travel not only in South DeKalb, but to other areas of the metro. Most favored a light rail system when asked to vote on an option. That tells me people are aware of the realities of bringing rail to south DeKalb. Heavy rail will never come to south DeKalb. So we must look at other options the next best thing is Light rail. It costs less than heavy rail, but can carry more people than BRT systems. Also, it would be nice to see the regions first light rail implemented in South DeKalb.

This study is just that, a study. What many folks do not know is that this study has to make it onto a list of regional transit options that will be funded by an additional 1 cent sales tax on people. The sales tax referendum isn’t scheduled until the 2012 elections. Even if that passes, there is no guarantee that this project gets on the list. In short, the project has to be considered doable to make the list, then funding must be approved via this vote. I am a pessimist and my pessimistic nature tells me not to get my hopes up too high. There are other areas who will be pushing their own transportation projects, and many of those areas are much more politically connected than South DeKalb. If this thing happens I will be pleasantly surprised. It might even add a bit of optimism to my pessimistic outlook on this whole transit thing.

Finally, in addition to MARTA big wigs, there were a couple of surprise faces in the crowd. I was surprised to see School board member Zepora Roberts in attendance. Roberts, who could be ex-board member Roberts next week, was very vocal and passionate about transit in the area. Like many in the audience she was skeptical of the chances that transit will come to I-20 anytime soon. Also in attendance was 4th district candidate Liz Carter. She says she has been to each of the meetings held in the corridor. Since I have only been to one of the meetings, I can’t verify that but Carter has been very visible in South DeKalb during this race. Far More visible than Hank Johnson, or some of our local elected officials. Say what you want about Carter and her party representation, but she seems to have a genuine concern about what goes on in the district

 

MARTA To talk I-20 Corridor in South DeKalb

October 14, 2010 3 comments

MARTA is holding public meetings to discuss the horrific traffic in the I-20 corridor in South DeKalb. We all know that a transportation upgrade is needed in this part of the metro. Capacity has reached a critical stage especially during rush hours and on weekends. That traffic overflows onto surface streets and there is little you can do but wait it out. I don’t see heavy rail coming anytime soon, but I hope they can bring some alternative to driving. What they should have is a light rail system that travels along I-20 from Stonecrest, perhaps linking with MARTA stations on the east line or even downtown. It would be quicker and less expensive to implement and would remove vehicles from the road.  Here is the press release from MARTA:

MARTA Invites Community to Public Meetings to Discuss Potential I-20 East Corridor Transit Improvements

ATLANTA – MARTA invites the community to participate in upcoming public meetings to discuss potential transit improvements in the I-20 East corridor from downtown Atlanta to the Mall at Stonecrest in eastern DeKalb County.  MARTA, in partnership with DeKalb County and the Federal Transit Administration, is conducting the I-20 East Transit Initiative to address limited travel options and high levels of delay and congestion along this corridor.  The study will identify transit investments that will enhance east-west mobility and improve accessibility to residential areas and employment centers in this area.

The community is invited to attend all three public meetings, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., to learn more about the project and initial study findings, speak to project team staff members, and provide their input regarding transportation needs within the corridor and the study goals and objectives.

 

  • Tuesday, October 26

DeKalb Medical Center Hillandale – Community Room

2801 DeKalb Medical Parkway

Lithonia, GA  30058

 

  • Wednesday, October 27

East Lake YMCA – Community Room

275 East Lake Boulevard

Atlanta, GA  30317

 

  • Thursday, October 28

South DeKalb Mall – Community Room

2801 Candler Road

Decatur, GA  30034

 

An open house will be held during the first hour to give community members the opportunity to speak one-on-one with MARTA representatives.  At 7 p.m., MARTA will begin a formal presentation and question/answer session.  The same information will be presented at each meeting.

 

For more information on the project, please visit our website www.itsmarta.com/I20-east-corr.aspx

 

MARTA becoming less SMARTA

June 30, 2010 Comments off
MARTA Train

MARTA is cutting rail and bus service, as well as rasing fares among other cost cutting measures

We knew it was coming. MARTA was going to reduce the number of bus routes, and cut its rail service. Here is a snippet from their web site:

MARTA’s FY 2011 budget includes a number of internal cost containment measures; a 10.2 percent reduction in bus service (131 routes to 91 routes), a 14.2 percent reduction in rail service, an increase in weekly, monthly and Mobility pass prices; closure of two Ride Stores; reduced customer service call center hours; a reduction in the number of Station Agents assigned throughout the system, and designation of public restrooms at nine major transfer points and end-of-line stations

Here is a list of changes that Affect South DeKalb riders

Eliminated:

7

22

28

96

216

Changed:

9 – Toney valley, starts at Kensington goes to Covington Hwy, Peachcrest, Columbia, Toney Valley, Tilson rd. Second Ave, and Gresham/Brennan Rd. where it ends.

15 – South DeKalb, no longer going to Health center. Must use 114.

24 – Belvedere no longer serving South DeKalb, will meander around East lake, Kirkwood areas. 123 now serving portions of Belvedere and Midway.

34 – Gresham Park, will continue to serve Gresham Park area, but will end at GPC Decatur.

74, Flat Shoals, will continue to serve Whites Mill Rd. and on to downtown via Flat Shoals, Glenwood and I-20, but not clear if it will continue to serve S DeKalb mall area.

86 – Lithonia, will take you from Lithonia to East Lake station via Snapfinger Woods Dr., Wesley Chapel, Columbia, McAfee and 2nd Avenue.

123 – Church St,  Decatur Station  Route 123 will assume the Swanton Way, Commerce Dr., W. Trinity Pl., S/N McDonough St., W. Hill St., Oakview Rd., Fifth Ave. to Hosea Williams Dr. segments currently served by Route 18. From Hosea Williams Rd. Route 123 will then assume the S. Candler St., Midway Rd., Carter Rd., Fairlee Dr., Line St., White Oak Dr., Capistrana Place, San Gabriel Ave., and Belvedere Lane segments currently served by Route 24.

186 – Wesley Chapel/Rainbow,  Will go from Wesley Chapel to Candler then on to downtown via I-20. No more service to Indian creek station.

107 – Glenwood, will go from Inman Park Station to Covington Hwy., and then continue on to Kensington Station.

111 – Stonecrest, Will go from Stonecrest Mall to Wesley Chapel via Snapfinger woods. Then down to Covington Hwy to South Indian Creek to Indian Creek Station.

114 – Columbia Woods, will go from Avondale Station to Clifton Springs terminating at the health center.

115 – Covington Hwy, will go from Evans Mill park and ride to Covington Hwy to South Hairston to Redan on to Indian Creek Station.

116 – Redan/Stonecrest will Terminate at Stonecrest Mall via Redan Road. It will no longer service Main St. in Downtown Lithonia.

117 – Rockbridge/Panola will go to the Panola GRTA lot at I-20 and Panola. It will service Fairington Pkwy as well as the Lou Walker Senior center.

In addition to route changes, MARTA also will increase fares on weekly, monthly, and mobility passes. Here is a PDF of the fare schedule for the next few years.

Trains will run fewer hours as well. Trains stop running at 1 am all days, and will start running at 6 am on weekends. Happy riding.

Legislature screws MARTA, and working class folks too

April 20, 2010 Comments off

Jay Bookmans blog posting about MARTA and the legislators who refuse to help it during these tough financial times forgets to mention one troubling issue with MARTA and those who refuse to help fund it. Many of the people in power who control MARTA’s fate at the legislative level do not care about the people who rely on MARTA for basic transportation survival. After all who rides MARTA? Poor people, people who have little or no education, people who live in crime-ridden apartment complexes, minorities, useless old folk or just some baby’s mama. In the grand scheme of things, these people do not matter. They are voiceless and passive, and therefore are not a threat. That is why the legislature can drag its feet when it comes to helping MARTA. When corporations open their mouths, and start using their influence that is when something will happen with MARTA. But wait, the corporations have no stake in MARTA. After all the bulk of their workers who “mean” anything to the bottom line drive to their plush corporate settings in the suburbs without a care in the world. MARTA’s primary directive is to move the nannies, the janitors, and the unskilled from his hovel in that other part of town to the castles occupied by the powerful who could care less if some lowly worker is left without an option to get to work. For those in power, a lowly janitor can be replaced a thousand times over with a janitor who has a car.

MARTA is in the deepest doo according to this site

DeKalb and Fulton should have more control over extra transit dollars

March 23, 2010 Comments off

DeKalb wants control over transit tax  | ajc.com.

According to this article, DeKalb commissioners voted to support a regional sales tax for transportation in the state, but with a few caveats, one being that DeKalb has more control over the extra monies. At least the commission has decided that it might be a tad unfair to tack on another penny tax for transportation when DeKalb and Fulton are already being taxed 1 cent. This seems to be a view shared by both sides of the commision. Here is Lee May, district 5 commisioner:

It’s so disheartening that the state wants to tell us how to use our own money,” Commissioner Lee May told the AJC. “We will accept another penny only if we have control of it.

Here is Jeff Rader from district 2:

This legislation is really unfit for support for the folks in DeKalb and Fulton counties. Really it’s not fit for anybody,” Commissioner Jeff Rader said.

This is good, at least the commission has found something that they all think is bad for DeKalb no matter where you live.