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Can MARTA Get Smarter?

By D. Aileen Dodd Contributing Writer | 6/14/2013, 6 a.m.
Gridlock on metro Atlanta interstate highways is driving some commuters to the edge.
The open seats on local trains and buses go against the national trend.

AV: Recently, MARTA held a job fair in search of bus drivers. How many people attended? What are the qualities of an efficient employee at MARTA? How many job openings are there for drivers and other positions?

KP: “The recent job fair was very well attended and we were specifically looking for candidates to fill positions as full-time bus operators. We had about 105 applicants and we are looking to recruit about 30 full-time positions. Every week, we post new positions that are open at MARTA. Regardless of the job description, we are looking for employees who are dedicated to customer service, who are honest, hardworking and committed to contributing to an organizational culture that expects, and rewards routine excellence in everything we do.”

AV: You have a police department of 350 sworn police officers, and civilian employees that earned national certification from CALEA. What will you do to make the police more visible on trains and buses where they can respond directly to emergencies or crime?

KP: “Although MARTA is a very safe transit system; we recognize that the perception of safety and security is just as important as the reality. As a result, we are taking a series of pro-active steps to make our customers feel more comfortable when they’re on a train, riding a bus or at a rail station. First of all, we’re deploying our police officers to make them more visible to the riding public. Officers have also been instructed to engage with customers and become more customer-focused when they are on patrol.

“We are launching a policy that will significantly reduce the amount of ‘knucklehead’ behavior perpetrated by the small but troublesome percentage of customers who are unruly or uncivil toward their fellow passengers.  Recently, we’ve also launched a free, smartphone app called MARTA ‘See & Say’ that enables customers to report misbehavior on the trains and buses. You can also snap a photo that is sent directly to the MARTA’s police dispatch center that enables our officers to respond more quickly.

“This new app works in areas where customers have cellphone service and it automatically disables the smartphone’s flash so you can take a picture without anyone else realizing it.”