What do you think of MARTA’s fare increase?

Financially-strapped MARTA is raising fares 25 cents to $2.00 starting Thursday. The monthly pass will increase to $60, from $52.50.

Also, parking fees will rise $1 in lots that charge fees. And MARTA is replacing its age requirement for kids to ride free with a maximum height. Starting Thursday, children under 46 inches tall can ride free.

AJC reporter Ariel Hart writes about more of the details.

Will these changes make a difference in your travel plans?

If you ride MARTA, what has been your experience? Has service improved or gotten worse over the past year?

Finally, only Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties help finance MARTA through a 1-cent sales tax. Should other counties contribute?

What about the state? MARTA is the only major transit system in the country that does not receive consistent state funding for its operations. Should legislators change that?

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82 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

September 30th, 2009
5:27 pm

When did they pass this one? I do not remember any public debate on this; was there any?

MARTA as well as all urban transit should be funded by the Counties which make up that urban area. It should operate as a system, so all should pay for this whether it is a main source of transportation or an alternate. Transit takes cars off the road, reducing congestion.

The politicians should adjust the gas tax to inflation since it was last adjusted/set, and maybe add some tax (yes tax…are the repubs shaking yet?) to account for fuel efficiency. Then users of gasoline would be paying their fair share , and money would be supplied for transportation improvements, including transit, rail, sidewalks, and roads. We are not going to get out of this transportation mess by idlely sitting on our hands and crying “no tax increase”. The tax adjustment would be an end to NOT paying your fair share.

Private/Public /Partnerships will result in TOLLS (now is that a tax?) not only on our interstates (are you ready for the mass exodus to the arterials?) but possibly our arterials. People are positioning a program where you would pay by mileage and time of day/degree of congestion.

I know times are hard, but when will transportation be adequately funded?

Georgia hates Atlanta

September 30th, 2009
5:37 pm

Despite the economic contributions of MARTA to the state, the fudpuckers from non-metro Atlanta will never willing contribute to MARTA. In the words of Spike Lee: it’s a black thing.


September 30th, 2009
7:38 pm

Backwards!! The only word I can use for this issue. Clayton, Douglass, Cobb & Gwinett should all be helping to pay for Marta upkeep and expansion. I mean the trains and buses are always packed, yet Marta does not have the money? Why do people think so small instead of thinking BIG? The Metro area of Atlanta needs this. Cars are not everyone.


September 30th, 2009
7:41 pm

Road – Marta held extensive user polls about the fare increases over the last few months. They debated eliminating a lot of service, but a lot of low-mobility community members would’ve been extremely affected. Me, I think a quarter is pretty fair.

I’d enjoy a higher gas tax, myself. However, the gas tax in Ga is for roads only – it’s in the state constitution that way. Tough to change. HOT lanes are nice because the state can (theoretically of course, thanks legislature) put the money into anything it wants. Of course, lately federal money for roads has started coming with a lot of transit alternative caveats. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s blog is pretty sweet – you should check it out.


September 30th, 2009
8:57 pm

I think the fare increase is fare and still makes MARTA the best travel deal in town.
I do think that all the Metro Counties should contribute to the operating revenue of MARTA.
I remember when we voted for MARTA many years ago. They promised that the fare would never rise above 25 cents. Of course, there was no rail then and gas was 49cents a gallon.
I use public transportation all over the US and MARTA trains are clean and efficient. Just look at the cars sitting on the expressway as you zoom over them.
Perhaps instead of increasing the parking rate MARTA should have some sort of incentive for those of use who live in Fulton and DeKalb and pay the bills. Charge non residents of these counties more to park and more to ride by use of an ID of some kind. Just a thought.
I doubt if the other counties will ever cooperate like the counties of the Bay Area of San Francisco. It is a seamless system and it even crosses under the bay by rail. It is however more expensive since everything on the West Coast is more expensive.
I also think that Georgia’s requirement that all gas taxes must go to fix roads must be changed. This law has to be the result of some lobbyist or favor to a road construction or road materials company from a long time ago when politics was all about secret deals behind closed doors. Any body know when that law was enacted?


September 30th, 2009
9:11 pm


September 30th, 2009
9:22 pm

Seems like a fair price increase, just wish they would change the pricing so it was based on distance traveled like D.C. I’d be more likely to take Marta for short (one or two stop) trips then.

Fly like a Eagle

September 30th, 2009
9:42 pm

I say the people who use the service should pay for the service, what ever the cost may be. If they don’t pay it, scrap it.

Counties that dont pay the ( 1-cent sales tax. Should pay raising fares.

September 30th, 2009
9:48 pm

Counties that dont pay the ( 1-cent sales tax. Should pay raising fares 25 cents to $2.00 , The monthly pass and increase to $60, from $52.50.The monthly pass Should state the Counties You are from Clayton, Douglass, Cobb & Gwinett, however Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties Should NOT THEY PAY 1-cent sales tax.


September 30th, 2009
10:47 pm

Many other cities charge more to go shorter distances. $2 per ride is pretty fair. What MARTA needs to focus on is improving their coverage of the area in which they currently operate first (Fulton and Dekalb) before looking to expand into places like Gwinnett and Cobb which have proven to be less than receptive. If suburbanites in those counties want to sit in traffic for an hour every day back and forth, that’s their loss. But there are plenty of people who live in or near places like Tucker, Lithonia, Emory University, Atlantic Station, Turner Field, etc. who would probably love to have MARTA stations within walking distance but don’t have that option.


September 30th, 2009
11:16 pm

I’d love to see the rail extended out to Stonecrest at least. MARTA is a wonderful alternative to the stress of sitting in traffic, but since the closest station to me is only 2 miles closer than it is for me to get to work, I might as well just drive. By the way, the $1.75 rate which was set in 2001 adjusted for inflation is now worth $2.13, so it’s actually going to be cheaper to ride MARTA than it was in 2001.

Mc W

September 30th, 2009
11:30 pm

I am easily just as annoyed as anyone else about this fare increase; in any case, however, a higher price for (mostly) maintained service is preferable to a steadily maintained price for less service than before. It is still more than $80 for a monthly pass on New York’s subway/bus network, and while that is doubtlessly more expansive, we Atlantans still have the better end of things financially.

I pray and hope that the state Legislature reconsiders its insane opposition to our regionally unique (in that it is the only subway in the South, unless DC is included) transit system.


September 30th, 2009
11:49 pm

Here’s a wild idea: how about we drop-kick the incompetent MARTA employees into the street where they belong, hire new ones out of the vast pool of currently unemployed workers, and then we can talk about earmarking tax dollars for MARTA subsidies. In its current state, MARTA deserves to rot.

Marta is a joke

October 1st, 2009
12:16 am

added fares to my breeze card on aug 29, next weekend tried to use my breeze card, got message “card not valid, card expried” I was told the card the card expires after 4 years. I only had the card just over 1 year, marta been using the breeze cards about 1 1/2 years..go figure.the clowns at the lindburg station said marta was closed on the weekend. no one told me that the 5 points station or airport station was open 7 days a week. now i understand why no one uses marta.


October 1st, 2009
12:20 am

marta wastes plenty of money. they don’t need raise the faires when they wastes money on trips to disney world, parties ecta..


October 1st, 2009
7:08 am

The 1.75 rate increase was not worth it in 2001, the increase to 2.00 is not worth it today. Marta is a dysfunctional, out of date, unkempt and out of touch transit authority that has no business being in business. The fact is only way that it should be run is by state control, and by that it must take the unions out of the picture. Service has slid, maintenance is a joke and don’t plan on being on time with Marta. I’ve been very patient with them, but in 2005 made the business decision that Marta will not be part of my transit planning process. Maybe they should learn some tips from the Georgia XPress crowd. Also, is all you do is post questions? Do you do any actual reporting?


October 1st, 2009
7:23 am

Yes, the state should certainly step in to avoid the fare increase. Oops, too late. They should be lowering fares, back to the original 25 cents, and increasing security. Better yet, let everyone ride free. Federal money is probably available as well. Oops, $2 triilion deficit. But hey, we’re starting a new fiscal year today, so go for it!

I’ve ridden Marta whenever I could over its existence and have never had a bad experience, but that would probably be about 20 times.

Come om Sonny, do the right thing!


October 1st, 2009
7:49 am

For the price of a one-way trip, I can buy a gallon of gas and DRIVE 30+ miles. No more need for MARTA now.


October 1st, 2009
7:56 am

They announce the fare hike – yet in August they cut service – some 5-10 minutes but still cut service – the trains don’t “connect” well – the connections from train to bus are horrible – you call and complain and no improvements.


October 1st, 2009
8:09 am

MARTA is A Joke, that is why MARTA has a website. They hope that you would take the time to educate yourself about the system. Check it out sometime.

East Point Resident

October 1st, 2009
8:12 am

The state needs to contribute to all transportation. I can’t recall ever driving down a state highway in Effingham County, but my taxes helped pay for that road. If the state doesn’t want to pay for transportation, let’s stop paying for State Highways.


October 1st, 2009
8:23 am

A mere quarter increase after not having raised fares since 2001, what is there to complain about? How much more are we paying for gas since 2001? Fifteen bucks for a week’s worth of unlimited rides, that’s not bad. We Atlantans just like to complain about every and anything our local cheerleaders(the local media) throws st us.


October 1st, 2009
8:23 am

2.00 for a child???? This is out right CRAZY. I can understand charging full price for a child during peak hours when Marta is jam packed and the child holds a seat but any other time a child aged 5-12 should at most only have to pay half price. I only have one child and he is 8 so above the height requirement but Im truly sorry for those with 2 plus older kids that are now looking at paying 6.00+ per trip for their family to ride MARTA. Times are hard now but MARTA should have really thought more about how this increase will affect families. Also I hope that with the fair increase Marta would consider 24 hour train service. Even if they offer one train an hour that would help those that work the grave yard odd hours if not MARTA shouldat least start offering overnight parking at stations that are located at end line stations like H. E. Holmes.

Another point I would like to make is that I live in Gwinnett but I grew up in Atlanta. I ride Marta quite often and I feel that Marta should require Gwinnett and other counties that feed into Marta to pay. In Gwinnett our fare has been 2.00 for several months and our buses don’t even run on Sundays or holidays

Works for me!

October 1st, 2009
8:35 am

On the flip side I live in S. Gwinnett near Doraville with low taxes and crime in a new home. The other great thing is that I am only three miles from the Doraville station even though im in Gwinnett Co, so I work downtown and is only 20-25 min ride. So I have the best of both worlds. I would like to see another station built along Buford Hwy in Gwinnett along the Amtrak lines maybe between Doraville and Norcross would be nice.

Michael Stacio

October 1st, 2009
8:40 am

I would not ride on MARTA even if it was free, let the fares go up to $20.00 each way. MARTA is a big welfare program in Atlanta.


October 1st, 2009
8:51 am

gas is not the only cost for operating a car. AAA estimates that when you factor in gas, tires, maintenance, insurance, taxes, and the cost of your vehicle (even though your mommy bought your car for you, SOMEBODY paid for it) it costs between 50 and 70 cents per mile to operate your car. So, that 30 mile trip you were talking about actually costs you around $15-20.


October 1st, 2009
9:03 am

Marta is the worst transit system in the country. They can’t justify fare hikes with reduced service. There are so many other things that they could do to mirror what is done in other cities, like shorter trains, coming more often.

Make it worth my time if you’re going to charge me for it. For now, I’ll stick to my car because it ends up being cheaper.


October 1st, 2009
9:07 am

Let’s do the math, people.

If a MARTA train of 10 cars and 50 people per car leaves Gwinnett every 10 minutes, how many people does it move per hour? 3,000.

How many cars leave Gwinnett heading south on 85 every morning? Over 200,000. Even if MARTA had a Gwinnett station and ran fully-loaded trains, it would reduce traffic by only 1.5%. Drivers would probably not even notice.

MARTA is insignificant in terms of traffic. There is nothing “mass” about MARTA transit. Rather, MARTA is taxpayer-subsidized transportation. The people in Atlanta literally vote themselves into a free ride paid for by others. Why? Why should Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee or Forsyth voters subsidize the travel of MARTA riders? There is no real traffic benefit. No real environmental impact. It’s just a welfare project on wheels.


October 1st, 2009
9:07 am

Charge for parking. It’s not right that someone can ride in from North Georgia suburbs and ride all the way in for $2 while I ride from Midtown to Peachtree Center (no parking – free or otherwise – for city folks) for the same price. MARTA is a good deal for suburbans, but not for the people who live in the city and bear more of the costs for MARTA. Plus the outliers get all the seating and I have to stand. I don’t know why I bother. It takes longer than driving. It’s exhausting, I get wet, cold, hot – depending on the weather. And the price of parking is about the same as MARTA’s fare. MARTA is getting to the point where there’s no reason to ride it anymore.


October 1st, 2009
9:12 am

If the Suburba-whites excuse me Suburbanites would actually urge there county leaders to shared the cost of Marta with Fulton and De Kalb versus just the added benefit they would see increased services and a decrease or stabilization in fares. This is not rocket science people. Other metropolitan areas do this across the country and with that said it’s makes them MORE viable for federal dollars earmarked for rapid transit when they see a community initiative versus a one or two member city campaign.


October 1st, 2009
9:17 am

About time a fare hike occurred. They would be smart to cut more of their worst loss inducing services (buses no one uses) and expand the profitable ones – if there are any.


October 1st, 2009
9:31 am

Marta stinks. Literally, the smell from the trains alone is enough to prevent you from riding on a continual basis. Additionally, I see very little police presence. Couple that with the unruly behavior of a minority but vocal group of riders, it keeps me off the train.


October 1st, 2009
9:39 am

The increase in the fare is expected based on MARTA’s budget issues. The users of the MARTA system should be the ones to pay. Those who do not use MARTA or should not have to bear the financial cost through sales tax. When gas prices jump up I don;t see the MARTA riders pitching in to assist me in those cost. I would love to commute using mass transit but as a IT technical support person who has to travel to multiple locations daily with trunk load of spare parts it is not practical.


October 1st, 2009
9:45 am

I use the Northsprings station and leave for 3 days at a time. Marta always charged higher parking fees at Northsprings: $3.00 more than Sandy Springs and they raised the parking fee again. I think they should have brought parking fees at all stations up to the $7.00/overnight charge and left the Northsprings parking fee unchanged. I guess they feel that North Fulton County can take it and I’m furious.


October 1st, 2009
9:47 am

Ahem…my POINT was that if I am going to have to pay higher rates to ride that stinky train and those smelly buses, I’d MUCH rather drive my own car. The money I’ll be saving (I only travel a few miles a few times a week) will more than make up for “wear and tear” on my car. Yes, I have to add $1.99 in oil occasionally, or buy tires every couple of years, or pay the MINIMUM in insurance…but it is MORE than worth it.


October 1st, 2009
9:50 am


It’s “their” not “there.” Out here in suburbia our schools teach the difference, which is one of the reasons people flee the inner city. If you were forced to attend an inner-city government school, then I can see why you wouldn’t know the difference between “there” and “their.”

Another reason is – hold on to your hat – diversity. Yes, diversity. Gwinnett is THE MOST diverse county in Georgia. Not Fulton. Not DeKalb. Gwinnett. (http://projects.nytimes.com/immigration/enrollment/georgia/fulton) Fulton is 17th. Not even close. Nearly all-black DeKalb is 110th on the list. No diversity there, obviously. Perhaps we suburbanites prefer to live in places where everyone doesn’t look the same, unlike Fulton and DeKalb.

So it isn’t a bunch of racist whites in Gwinnett that oppose MARTA, as your comment implies. It is sensible people of all races and backgrounds who oppose thowing money down a hole and getting no tangible benefit in return. MARTA is a waste. It always has been. Kill it now, before it grows any larger.


October 1st, 2009
9:50 am

John — the numbers for your math are faulty. 258,250 is the average number of vehicles traveling during an entire day on both north and south lanes on I85 in Gwinnett. The data is available on the GDOT site: http://www.dot.ga.gov/statistics/TrafficData/Pages/stars.aspx


October 1st, 2009
9:52 am

I use MARTA everyday, an increase is needed. For the most part MARTA is efficient and clean. I have met a lot of people and most days the entertainment value is huge. I get reimbursed for using alternative transportation to work and I get my daily exercise by walking. Many of you need to do research on MARTA, there are counties that did not want their services. Now those counties want access because of their growth and overbuilding. This is an old problem – Suburbanites don’t want contact with the inner city, but want the perks. TOUGH!!!!! There are times that service is not good, that happens with any transit system (NYC,DC), but my car sits and a tank of gas last a long time. Some days I get home before my neighbor who work near me and we leave at the same time. To all MARTA haters, keep sitting in traffic, contributing to the destruction of our roads and environment. DON’T RIDE IT – If you don’t want to pay the increase – BUT it is here to stay.


October 1st, 2009
9:55 am

If anyone thinks paying $2 to ride from (let’s say the furthest north/south line) the park/ride station at North Springs to the airport is excessive…..try riding in a cab that sits out front. Hop in and enjoy the ride. Of course your risk of not getting robbed are far greater taking the cabbie!

VT Hokiefan

October 1st, 2009
10:16 am

Raising rates on MARTA makes no sense, whatsoever!!!!!! MARTA, listen up…If you run “X”-train let’s say 20 times a day, regardless of whether or not anyone’s on said train, then why would you not lower the price, thus making riding MARTA more attractive. See, the trains are going to run 20 times a day regardless if they have 10 passengers, or 500 passengers, or 50,000 passengers. If the fare becomes cost-prohibitive relative to other substitutes (ie: driving your car, paying to park, unicycle, car from Mad Max), then your net total ridership decreases exponentially. What I’m saying MARTA is that there has to be a benefit to taking your bass-ackwards “Rail line to nowhere”, or else you’ll continue to be nothing more than a rolling urinal for the homeless.

For instance: A single, one way fare card is now $2.00, thus you have to pay $4.00 for a round trip. $4.00 is cost prohibitive to the casual rider (like myself), and here’s how: As my handle “VT Hokiefan” states, I’m a Virginia Tech fan. I recently rode MARTA from my house to the VT v. Bama Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic, and tailgated with some friends right next to the stadium. Yes, I have friends…I’m blessed, I occasionally get a phone call too. Who wants to touch me?! Anywho, parking for my friends was $10. They had 7 people in their SUV, which also had a grill, a tailgate tent, food procured cheaply from Publix, and booze that wasn’t purchased at a premium. Therefore, each person in the car paid $1.42 to park (7*1.43=$10), to be in their OWN car, to leave when THEY decided, and to have a nice spot to set up a tailgate tent and have a party that didn’t cost more than another $10 per person. Thus, we’ll say that everyone that drove/rode down paid a total of $11.43 total to eat, drink, drive, and be merry.

Now, imagine some family from Alpharetta who chose to take MARTA…they had to drive down and park at North Springs station (gas wasted just to get to “useless rail line to nowhere”), pay $20 for a family of five round-trip ($4 per person*5 family members), had nowhere to go once they got to the dome (unless they have friends. We’ll assume they have no friends since they are from Alpharetta), probably had to take those mid-american monsters that they call “children” Suzy, Connor, and Ryan to the CNN Center to buy them food because they couldn’t tailgate behind their own car with their own food and booze (3 monsters*$7 each=$21 [generously low-balling here]). And now dad is pissed because he wants a beer, but can’t buy a 12 pack and bring it with him because that’s illegal on MARTA. Therefore he drinks 6 beers at the CNN Center (which is a good value at $4 for a 24oz beer, but still doesn’t equal that of buying a 12 pack for $10 ($12 @ CNN+tips=$15>$10). So now dad’s wasted and broke, the monsters are hungry again because they’re insatiable, and the wife is nowhere to be found because she’s shacked up with a group of Bama frat boys all equipped with Jon Parker Wilson hair. Now dad–trying to be the good Alpharetta trooper he is–tries to rally the remnants of his family and go into the game. But while on the way, a MARTA cop sees him and says he’s too drunk to be in CNN Center, the MARTA corridor that leads to the dome, and is therefore too drunk to be in the GA Dome. Dad tries to fight the cop and goes to jail ($1,000 bond for drunk and disorderly), the now parentless monsters go to DFACS ($10,000 litigation to get monsters out of DFACS and back to Alpharetta compound), and the wife’s somewhere in Alabama, shackin’ up with a 20 year old kid with name like Bryson Grason Jackson III who’s dad “like totally owns this dealership.” So now the dad is in divorce court since his wife was an ironing board when he met her in college, but thanks to modern surgical methods, looks better than most former Miss America’s her age ($100K+), the mom is reliving her youth as in Tuscaloosa at the expense of her husband ($100K+ year in alimony), and the monsters are in therapy for going Goth and cutting themselves because they feel their parents marital problems can be squarely blamed on them [which they most certainly can be] ($100K+ and all true). All of this turmoil happened for one reason, and one reason alone…it happened because MARTA sucks, and shouldn’t raise rates.

Thank you,
Good night Australia! I mean Atlanta!

Brown Sugar

October 1st, 2009
10:19 am

Feed-Up? FEED?????


Perpetuate negative stereotypes about about certain minority groups much?

Welfare-Sucking Simpleton.


October 1st, 2009
10:28 am

@ VTHokiefan. What?


October 1st, 2009
10:30 am

Kudos to Darin for finding hard data.

I couldn’t pull up Darin’s link (some browser problem), but let’s say he is correct. 250,000 north/south all day is going to be about 125,000 southbound all day. Of that southbound traffic, how much is during the morning rush? One half? One third?

Let’s be conservative and say 30,000 in the morning rush. (I think that’s probably low for a county of 700,000, but it makes the math easy.) If a MARTA train relieves 3,000 of those, that’s still only 10% (and we’re assuming full MARTA trains here). Would drivers even notice? How many millions of dollars will it take to build the train initially and then maintain it in order to reduce traffic by 10%? Even with these MARTA-favorable numbers, it doesn’t seem like a cost-effective way to go.

If it’s about reducing traffic (rather than subsidizing the travel of city dwellers), we can raise the gas tax (encouraging people to carpool or telecommute), extend the HOV lanes beyond 285, or improve alternate routes to take the load off the interstate, just to name a few.

But MARTA isn’t about reducing traffic. It’s about subsidized travel for city dwellers. If the city dwellers want a subsidized transit system, they can have it. But let’s not send the bill to neighboring counties that do not benefit from MARTA and do not want it.


October 1st, 2009
10:37 am

VT Hokiefan rocks. That was funny.


October 1st, 2009
11:03 am

Basically, Atlanta has the absolute worst public transit system.


October 1st, 2009
11:31 am

Why not, They need the money to operate.


October 1st, 2009
11:48 am

GO MARTA you should have rasied it to $3.00 which is still low.

Turd Ferguson

October 1st, 2009
11:57 am

Enter your comments here


October 1st, 2009
11:58 am

Yes Atlanta does have the worst public transit system… look at the people who operate it and put money into their own pockets. Just like everything else in Atlanta .

Turd Ferguson

October 1st, 2009
12:03 pm

Marta, its ideas, vehicles, mgmt, workers, passengers, BOD, etc all belong in the same Shythole together. Marta is fraught with incompetence, fraud, stupidity, liars and employees who personally have no pride in themselves or their jobs. Marta is abundant with free-loaders, ex-cons, convicted felons, bigots and arrogance.

The Marta trains, busses, parking lots are littered with bums who have soiled themselves with a rising stinch that permeates everywhere.

The sooner Marta is allowed to go bankrupt then the better off everyone will be. A bigger debacle I have yet to see.

Most of the riders are “strait outa compton” and dont deserve to have any public funds offered or public transporation. They demolish the busses/trains, they dont wipe their dirty behinds, they dont wash etc.

Basically, the Marta mgmt, workers, passengers, BOD, are not good the themselves or anybody else and should all be put out of their misery.