The Metropolitan Atlanta Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors held an in-person public hearing and community exchange Tuesday at the DeKalb County Public Library to consider the proposed fiscal year 2024 Operating and Capital Budgets.
During the public hearing, citizens voiced their concerns to the MARTA board regarding the proposed budget and any other MARTA-related comments.
Proud MARTA user Apostle Lazarus said although he appreciates MARTA and all their hard work, he wishes he had a greater chance to review the budget outside of the meeting.
“I came tonight thinking I’d have a greater chance to review the budget, but I wish there were more available documents that we could take with us such as highlights of the budget and the presentation,” he said. “I think the time frame works well, I am going to trust the process, but just make things more available. I appreciate the sign language person here, but a lot of us are visually impaired, so large print material would help.”
Additionally, Lazarus said MARTA should focus more on providing excellence to services such as customer service, delivering capital programs, and strengthening the MARTA brand.
“In the budget, it says $93.5 million is going to the capital and $2.6 million for station cleaning. We really need to look at this, our stations are deplorable. I’ve told Collie Greenwood and others that trash at the stations is deplorable,” he said. “There’s a motto going around saying, ‘Keep MARTA clean’, we must get it clean first. We can divert some of those monies from all the Lindbergh staff into really keeping our stations, buses, and trains clean.”
Budgetarily, Lazarus said, there needs to be more money for the MARTA police.
“I was surprised to see there were over 400 officers because I use it every day, but not a day goes by where I see more than five, and many days during the pandemic, I didn’t see any, so where are they and what are they doing,” he said. “I looked at the strategic priorities, and I agree, you are demonstrating fiscal responsibility. You are paid to do that, or we would send you to get orange jackets and what not. I do trust that this is happening from the board and staff.”
Member of the Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses Delton Hansberry said he wants improvements made soon regarding MARTA after incidents of being denied access to the handicap access disability entrance.
“As you can see, I am disabled, so I am forced to represent a certain segment of our community that appears to not be given proper services,” he said. “Sometimes we have been accused of not being involved in the community. I’ve said over the years, they need more diversity with MARTA Mobility. People of Caucasian descent, Asian descent, and other descents so that there’s a diversity in the level of services. I believe there needs to be more of a compliance of constitutional freedom and amenities.”
Hansberry also said he believes the expansion of projects and access to stations in Clayton and Fulton County needs to be improved.
“It’s a shame that Fulton County experienced no service for a couple of years, so I hope they pursue these things soon,’ he said.
Proposed MARTA 2024 Operating and Capital Budgets:
- Operating Revenues: $632.4 million
- Total Sales Tax: $347.6 million
- Title Ad Valorem Tax: $34.5 million
- Passenger Revenue: $82.7 million
- Station Parking: $1.7 million
- Total Advertising: $7 million
- Total Lease Income: $9.6 million
- Other Revenues: $4.1 million
- Federal Operating Assistance: $81.5 million
- Interest Income: $15.8 million
Net Operating Expenses – $631.4 million
- Labor Total: $490.5 million
- Non-Labor Total: $221.9 million
- Gross Operating Expenses: $712.4 million
- Capital Allocation ($81 million)
The proposed FY 2024 Operating and Capital Budgets are available to view during regular business hours at MARTA headquarters, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There will be another in-person meeting Thursday, May 18 starting with a community exchange where the community can ask questions regarding the budget at 6 p.m.
The meeting will take place at MARTA Headquarters, 2424 Piedmont Road, Atlanta. To join virtually, visit www.itsmarta.com. Also, to view the proposed budget online, visit https://www.itsmarta.com/public-hearings-meetings.aspx.