Audit a red-letter day for MARTA and its board

When MARTA’s history is written, Sept. 25, 2012 may rank in importance only behind the date back in 1971 when DeKalb and Fulton voters first approved a funding mechanism for the agency. Because one way or the other, the audit made public Tuesday by MARTA and KPMG is going to transform the agency.

We already knew that MARTA would have to change dramatically. As the audit points out, the transit agency is on a collision course with financial disaster, with reserves scheduled to be exhausted by 2018. Falling tax revenues that have affected almost all government agencies explain part of that crisis, but only part. MARTA leaders, including outgoing CEO Beverly Scott, understand that significant efficiencies would have to be found in the system if it is to survive.

The good news in the KPMG report is that such efficiencies exist. The bad news is that such efficiencies exist in sometimes embarrassing plenty.

According to the audit, MARTA’s pay scale is reasonable, and staffing levels in some functions are at or below comparable agencies elsewhere. As KPMG auditors also point out, the agency has taken difficult steps to try to deal with its challenge, including freezing salaries for the last five years and eliminating
700 staff positions in fiscal 2011. But as KPMG documents, that isn’t enough:

— Benefits, particularly pensions, are much more costly than they should be.
According to KPMG, “MARTA’s healthcare claim, retirement, and workers
compensation costs are $50 million higher than national averages including both private and public sectors.” Retirement costs alone are some $22 million higher each year than they should be. Renegotiating such benefits is always a painful process, particularly given that 60 percent of MARTA’s workforce is unionized, but the agency has little financial option.

— MARTA’s internal culture and its labor contract tolerate a level of absenteeism that is startling and expensive, forcing the agency to compensate for the recurring manpower shortage by the hiring of some 371 additional employees at an annual cost of $10 million. That is not tolerable.

— While many areas of the agency operate efficiently, those that do not offer
substantial opportunity for cost savings through privatization. According to
KPMG auditors, for example, it costs MARTA seven times as much to process an invoice as it would to outsource that function. It costs MARTA more than twice as much to cut an employee’s paycheck as it would through privatization. By outsourcing those two functions alone, the agency could save $1 million annually.

Altogether, easily outsourced functions could save the agency some $27 million over a five-year period, KPMG estimated. More difficult outsourcing projects could save another $115 million over five years, although in some cases that would require renegotiation of labor contracts. (MARTA’s contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union expires June 20, 2013).

Not all of the savings identified by KPMG will be realized. Privatization, for example, is often oversold as a cost-cutting option, although the scale of potential savings identified in the audit suggests that it offers a critically important option. Reducing pension and healthcare costs will take time, and will require the cooperation of union members who are faced with a choice of protecting current benefits or protecting their jobs.

All in all, however, the audit findings represent an enormous opportunity for MARTA to restore its financial standing and independence and perhaps play a renewed role in the region’s transit future.

That will require leadership. The agency is in the process of hiring a new CEO and is down to its final two candidates. The deciding factor in that choice should be each candidate’s ability and willingness to implement changes on such a large scale in a relatively small time.

And that in turn will require leadership by the MARTA board. While the board has an obligation to MARTA employees, its deeper obligation is to those the agency serves, many of whom are low-income seniors, students and workers who often can’t afford other forms of transportation. Those customers have already been forced to accept repeated cutbacks in service as well as fare increases. As the audit documents, it’s now time to look elsewhere for savings.

– Jay Bookman

293 comments Add your comment

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:05 am

Something is funky with the formatting Jay.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:08 am

Yeah definitely a formatting problem. I closed and switched browsers and it’s still all over the page bleeding into the right margin junk making it impossible to read. Oh and I got a message that said double click to edit…….. should i edit your article lol?

Jay

September 26th, 2012
7:24 am

Should be fixed now.

stands for decibels

September 26th, 2012
7:24 am

Thank you for the only non-shrieky analysis of this audit I’ve read (and, depressingly, am likely to read), Jay.

stands for decibels

September 26th, 2012
7:26 am

Why aren’t you covering [some imagined impeachable offense by Team Obama scraped from Drudge] LIBRUL JAY HUH BOOKMAN YOU HACK???

…there, I got that one out of the way.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:29 am

How co-incidental. I was talking to a friend of mine who outsources his payroll. I couldn’t understand how and why he did that as he had folks in his office that could (I assumed) easily handle it. But he “splained” it to me and it makes sense. If he as a private business does in then why can’t MARTA? WHat was it the Senator once said, ‘A million here and a million there and pretty soon you are talking about some real money.”

MARTA certainly needs to fix itself. I use public transportation when I go to other cities but not here. It’s not reliable. I have a stop less than 1/4 mile from my house but don’t use it because it’s not reliable.

Sad.

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
7:29 am

Throwing this out there for the next couple of hours’ discussion:

the same people who RAIL (gettit?) that MARTA should be privatized, that government shouldn’t be in the transportation business, etc … are the exact same people who think that government should DO SOMETHING DAMMIT about the high cost of gas.

just sayin.

Brad Steel

September 26th, 2012
7:32 am

Searching for a new CEO? I hear Beverly Hall is looking. She’ll do what ever it takes. She’s a doctor too, you know.

stands for decibels

September 26th, 2012
7:33 am

MARTA needs to seek efficiencies where they’ve been identified in a humane fashion.

And Metro Atlanta needs to subsidize it adequately, as they do in civilized parts of the world.

The End.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:35 am

LOL at the “rail” part USinUK.

I don’t think MARTA should be privatized but some parts of it could be, IE the payroll. If they were to “privatize” it now, who gets the windfall? The tracks are built, the equipment is already bought employees are trained. I mean if it was ME who gets to step into all that free guvmimt stuff and start making money I’m all for it, but otherwise, why should one of Nathan Deal’s buddies steal the transportation system?

Besides, MARTA is also partly a “social service.” How would a private business handle that part?

Mary Elizabeth

September 26th, 2012
7:39 am

“According to KPMG, ‘MARTA’s healthcare claim, retirement, and workers
compensation costs are $50 million higher than national averages including both private and public sectors.’
———————————————————————–

More telling, might be to give the percentage of difference. If $50 million higher retirement, heathcare, etc. for MARTA is only a 2% difference from the national average, as opposed to a 20% difference, one has to analyze somewhat differently, perhaps.

And, no mention of the fact that the state of Georgia does not contribute any funds to MARTA, as do other states with large public transportation systems such as MARTA (as you have previously disclosed)?

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
7:40 am

…there, I got that one out of the way.

You wish.

ken

September 26th, 2012
7:41 am

IMHO most Government departments are managed like MARTA. Managers and employees have a different mentality than the private sector employees.

Jay

September 26th, 2012
7:41 am

Mary Elizabeth, I didn’t mention that here because it isn’t really relevant. This is about MARTA cleaning up its own internal problems. Once that happens, we can turn again to the larger picture.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:42 am

Discussion on this will be light. There isn’t much opportunity to toss out bumper sticker phrases, one will actually have to read the article and think. That eliminates 90% of our Republican posters darnit…….

Of course since it’s MARTA they DO have room to talk about “those people” and the “mooching poor people” in general. I can see them denigrating into that quite easily now that I come to think of it.

OK, there’s room for them…….

Grob Hahn

September 26th, 2012
7:42 am

Most of MARTA’s problems can be fixed by more and better cops. If MARTA actually had the ridership they keep projecting, they’d be solvent. But people will not climb aboard a transport system that is frequented by thugs and theives. Why would anyone pay for that? So all you get are the subsidized riders. Hint: A subsidy from Marta isn’t a profit.
Grobbbbbbbbbbb

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
7:43 am

The audit is a band-aid on the real problem.

The real problem is this: is MARTA the backbone for a regional transportation solution… or is it just a Fulton/Dekalb asset that will server fewer and fewer people as the region continues to expand? The solution to this problem won’t be found in an accounting audit… it’ll be found with the state legislature, who created this mess in the first place and refuses to responsibly fix it.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:46 am

Thanks for so quickly confirming my post Grob. I knew I could count o one of you to do it quickly but I didn’t expect instantaneous.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
7:46 am

This is about MARTA cleaning up its own internal problems. Once that happens, we can turn again to the larger picture.

I see it as MARTA’s internal problems are indicative of a bad situation created by the state legislature. They might seem to be separate, but there will always be financial issues until the larger issues are resolved. Making a smaller agency “efficient” or “profitable” won’t do anything if the agency is either left to die or made part of a larger regional solution. It’s just a small short-term step that allows the state legislature to use MARTA’s finances as a political football while still not resolving the larger issues.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
7:49 am

But people will not climb aboard a transport system that is frequented by thugs and theives.

Why just yesterday, I saw some person of color get on the train with a 60″ flat-screen TV that I’m just sure he stole from some white person’s house in Cobb County. Still had the dry-wall attached and everything. Everyone else on the train was high-fiving him.

:roll:

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
7:50 am

JAY,

Was the report specific in terms of further details of union contract, difference in benefits and pay between union and non-union?

Jay

September 26th, 2012
7:51 am

With an aggressive response to the audit, Byte, MARTA can correct its problems and then turn to the state and say, in effect:

“OK, what’s your excuse NOW?”

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
7:51 am

KEN,

You make a very, very strong statement…our various governments have zero respect for our cash..evidence abounds across the map…shameful really.

Jay

September 26th, 2012
7:52 am

Stevie Ray, not in those terms. It did break down problems into those that could be addressed without renegotiating the labor contract, and those that required labor negotiation.

Mary Elizabeth

September 26th, 2012
7:53 am

Jay, I thought that might be your reason for not mentioning that the state of Georgia has not contributed funds to MARTA and your reason is quite understandable.

However, I would be interested to know what the percentage of difference is, as I mentioned in my 7:39 am post, if possible.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
7:54 am

If MARTA goes ahead and outsources subject jobs and the low bidder is offshorer, should taxpayers pay more to stay onshore?

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
7:55 am

“OK, what’s your excuse NOW?”

And I’m certainly cynical enough to say “they’ll still dither and use MARTA as a political football to score points in their exurban districts”. I’ve been here 25 years. Still waiting for the culture of stupid short-sightedness to change for the better.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
7:57 am

Jay,

Thanks…..I don’t trust unions….particularly of the government ilk…we all know how ugly these labor negotiations can be…..bet they extort deal via shutdown..

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
7:57 am

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am…

September 26th, 2012
7:54 am

If MARTA goes ahead and outsources subject jobs and the low bidder is offshorer, should taxpayers pay more to stay onshore?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Do you have a clue as to what outsourcing payroll entails?

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
7:57 am

If MARTA goes ahead and outsources subject jobs and the low bidder is offshorer

One of the bigger savings was with the cleaning crews. They’re costing a lot more than they should. Hard to offshore that function, but easy to find people to do it for half the price and no benefits. Accounting functions can be offshored only if there’s enough technology there to support it (scanners, etc.). At the very least, they would need a local office to handle the paperwork. So….

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:01 am

Privatize parta MARTA in order to maximize efficiency, eh. But the prime directive of any privatization effort is to maximize profits so how will this hybrid construct perform with its inherent conflicts of interest. Can select elements of privatization be utilized within a public program whose prime directive is to provide an equitable service over maximum profit?

Whatever

September 26th, 2012
8:03 am

These are the reasons I didn’t vote for the T-SPLOST. I’m all for public transportation but I don’t trust MARTA or the politicians to straighten out their act.

Now, if MARTA does what it needs to do then more power to them. I’m not holding my breath. The years have made me a cynic.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
8:04 am

Taxpayer: The main thing Jay mentioned from the report was the payroll and accounting functions. Out-sourcing them saves money even though the company they are outsourced to MAKES money. While it’s “privatizing” the functions it’s not privatizing MARTA.

Capiche?

Li'l Aynie

September 26th, 2012
8:05 am

Like most public services and many big businesses, MARTA suffers from incompetent management and outrageous freeloading. Outsourcing may be a good idea, but there is no substitute for good overall management.

Competent managers are in short supply despite the high number of people graduating with “business management” degrees. Honestly, I’ve never met or read about a successful businessman who studied “business management”. Good managers have degrees in engineering or the sciences, and some command experience in the military.

MARTA needs a manager who will not be stymied by the complexity of the business environment or mired in the typical American business garbage. Perhaps we should look for a European or Asian transportation manager willing to take a four year assignment to straighten out MARTA.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
8:05 am

Cosby

September 26th, 2012
8:09 am

Yep..perfect example when Government is in volved and those who run it think there is unlimited fundings – see the Teachers Union – Chicago, Wisconsin – see Barry, Harry and Nancy – sooner or later the well runs dry and then what..oh yea tax the rich..Government at it best as displayed by those in the government who run things..Thanks Beverly – but I bet you will receive a nice retirement and severance for being incapable!!

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:13 am

Fred,

I did say “Privatize parta MARTA, so I think I capiched ok.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:14 am

Cosby, I think I got con-crazy bingo just on your one off-topic rant. Thanks!

stands for decibels

September 26th, 2012
8:16 am

You wish.

Hey, there’s ample opportunity to complain about colored folks that I totally left wide open.

Privatize part

uh… huh-huh…huh-huh…

killerj

September 26th, 2012
8:18 am

So,more tax payers money will solve the problem that should have been privatized in the first place?,funny the rest of America is in the same place with big government.

stands for decibels

September 26th, 2012
8:19 am

think there is unlimited fundings – see the Teachers Union – Chicago, Wisconsin – see Barry, Harry and Nancy

and hear this when reading Cosby’s goofy apropos-of-nothing rant

JamVet

September 26th, 2012
8:21 am

Cosby, George Soros ad John Kerry say thank you…

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:22 am

Hey, there’s ample opportunity to complain about colored folks that I totally left wide open.

I hope I stomped on that one with my 7:49, but you never know for sure until the monsters crawl out from under their rocks.

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:22 am

So, how many private companies are ready to take over all of MARTA or replace it in its entirety, given the opportunity for such massive efficiencies of scale. It looks like what they really need in order to fully maximize profits is a bunch of johnnys since we all know that labor costs are the real issue.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:23 am

Discussion on this will be light. There isn’t much opportunity to toss out bumper sticker phrases, one will actually have to read the article and think. That eliminates 90% of our Republican posters darnit…….

So far, this seems accurate. Only Cosby has shown up with his bumper-sticker boogiepeople (that’s liberal-gender-neutral-politically-correct speech :) ).

An observer

September 26th, 2012
8:23 am

Does anyone really think MARTA is going to act on the audit recommendations? It is difficult to believe that MARTA was not already aware of these inefficiencies prior to the audit if the managers are at all competent. There were no secrets or unique insights uncovered by the audit, just the routine stuff everyone should already be aware of. We will now have to see if MARTA actually takes action.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
8:24 am

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:13 am

Fred,

I did say “Privatize parta MARTA, so I think I capiched ok.
++++++++++++++++

But did you understand the answer to your QUESTION? Or was that not really a question?

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:26 am

It is difficult to believe that MARTA was not already aware of these inefficiencies prior to the audit if the managers are at all competent.

The board’s first order of business is to find a cheaper better CEO. After that, it’ll be up to the CEO to implement the audit’s recommendations. The question is: will the patronage be internal employees or external companies?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

September 26th, 2012
8:30 am

Why doesn’t each and every GA public school system undergo the scrutiny of a regular, comprehensive financial audit by competent, out-of-state entities?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 26th, 2012
8:31 am

Jay, I have no problem in outsourcing functions for payroll checks if those savings are achieve through efficiency and not because the jobs are in another country with lower pay. But it does concern me that savings must always be made through cutting retirement “costs” (which are really benefits for retired employees). Employee costs should not always be determined by the LCD.

Brosephus™

September 26th, 2012
8:31 am

Funny how people all complain that MARTA suffers from mismanagement, yet not a single damn one steps forward to offer their “expertise” at fixing that problem. My personal feeling on MARTA is that if you don’t use or support it, then quit b*tching about it.

If they run the rail south towards me, and run a train early enough, I can guarantee at least one rider who would use it on a daily basis.

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:32 am

Fred:

The answer to my question is that it depends on the select elements that one chooses to privatize. Some are easily handled, as Jay said, and some are not, as Jay said.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
8:34 am

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:32 am

Fred:

The answer to my question is that it depends on the select elements that one chooses to privatize. Some are easily handled, as Jay said, and some are not, as Jay said.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So that WASN’T a real question and i wasted my time answering it. OK. I get it.

My bad.

Fred ™

September 26th, 2012
8:36 am

Here’s a great idea for your next topic Jay. You can REALLY get the hate out with this one…….

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/uga-council-to-vote-on-domestic-partner-benefits/nSLsj/

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
8:37 am

FRED

How’s it hanging?

I’m not sure I understand your question but I think I understand the concept of outsourcing and/or offshoring…My question is in theory, should taxpayers pay more in this instance to keep outsourced funtions in US?

Don

September 26th, 2012
8:37 am

There are three things about the report I find interesting.

1. Because they are public agencies that rely on subsidies, most transit agencies don’t develop a culture that aggressively seeks to reduce costs and improve revenues. If they find a way to save a nickel, the subsidy gets cut a nickel. Change is painful. Why take a risk on it if there is nothing in it for you? Status quo rules the day. Perhaps MARTA’s management and employees should be rewarded for finding ways to reduce the operating subsidy.

2. Station cleaning. You have to be kidding me. It’s expensive? MARTA has some of the dirtiest transit stations outside of NYC. About the only cleaning I see is the trash getting picked up. The stations all need a good power wash – they’re awful. Why not let the districts (like Midtown, Downtown, Buckhead) sponsor their stations and take care of the cleaning?

3. Noticeably absent in the report is using the Breeze card system to do zoned fares. Apparently, this is being done in another study. There was no reason to invest in the Breeze card system if you weren’t going to do zoned fares. It’s been years now. Big investment – no return yet. Not good. See point #1.

Fulton Taxpayers

September 26th, 2012
8:37 am

Another broken government agency at its finest I suppose. Will the liberals ever learn?

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
8:39 am

BYTME,

Yeah, I bet Marta paid KPMG a few million to tell them what they already knew…unfortunately, many in the decision making tree will require a third party sign off…unions, auditers, and creditors to name a few…

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 26th, 2012
8:39 am

My question is in theory, should taxpayers pay more in this instance to keep outsourced funtions in US?

Yes. Taxpayer money should be kept in US. Overall, given the multiplier impacts and the increase in employment, the taxpayers will save money. But, that aside, its just the right thing to do.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:41 am

My question is in theory, should taxpayers pay more in this instance to keep outsourced funtions in US?

I’ve done both offshoring and outsourcing as part of other businesses. The big thing people forget when doing that is that there are time zone and language barriers that are often ignored until they bite you in the butt. The contract cost is one cost, but the cost of not getting things done on time and with low stress is another. If there’s an issue with a payroll run and your “team” is on the other side of the world, you might not get it resolved for 2 days, which would be intolerable and a “cost” that wasn’t captured in the offshoring contract’s bottom line.

So… yes, you pay more to have it local, just because you save yourself time and headaches over the course of the contract. But you don’t have to pay double, you have to first quantify the value of not having those timezone and language headaches.

Stevie Ray..Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right..here I am...

September 26th, 2012
8:43 am

KEEP,

At what cost point does it make sense to offshore? Pay double, triple???

In this case, I think a staffing company or PEO may make sense…again the question about offshoring is in theory because I doubt Marta has functions that lend themselves to offshoring..

Don't Tread

September 26th, 2012
8:44 am

Uh oh….I spotted a bad word: privatization. Which spawns another bad word: profit. We can’t have that sort of thing happening, especially when union jobs (with their top-notch benefits and liberal absenteeism policy) are at stake. God forbid we should actually ask people to come to work…

Somehow I don’t think the people in charge of MARTA will do the right thing, judging by past behavior.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:45 am

There was no reason to invest in the Breeze card system if you weren’t going to do zoned fares.

Not true. The gate changes and requiring the card to go both in AND OUT of the station has increased revenues. They were losing money with people jumping the gates, now they’re not losing much.

However your #1 and #2 are spot-on. They need to pick up the service for the money they’re spending and they need to provide an incentive to find ways to lower operational costs.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

September 26th, 2012
8:47 am

I bet Marta paid KPMG a few million to tell them what they already knew

Sucker bet :) The managers already knew a lot of it, but they needed a third-party to say it out loud and help break the cycle of patronage.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 26th, 2012
8:50 am

Stevie, you tell us. How many people do you want to lay off, pay unemployment, pay for their kids when jobs are limited and not collect taxes from because you can save a few bucks by sending taxpayer money out of the country? How much impact will the discretionary impact have? When the politicos tell us how great an “investment” in a stadium is for the economy why is that “different” than an investment in jobs in our own economy, locally sourced. IF your only savings is “pay differential” then your savings are illusions for the taxpayers. But tell us, what are the impacts before you tell us about superficial “savings”.

GT

September 26th, 2012
8:52 am

The state of Georgia has a record for backing the wrong causes. I imagine more state tax dollars come from the metro area than the rest of the state. When Metro A blows up not only does Metro A blow up but the rest of the state goes with it. I not sure you won’t see some flight to the country, now expenses pick up in south Georgia without the cash cow Metro A to foot the bill. I predict this state will be bankrupt in 10 years or less. When it goes bankrupt, it will become the ward of the federal government. Funny how these things work. All those illegals that had their attention because the federal government couldn’t handle its job and now we got MPs directing the traffic.

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:53 am

Fred,

I asked a question that I already had my own answer to but that does not mean that no other answer exists.

George P. Burdell

September 26th, 2012
8:54 am

Brosephus,

I live in Dekalb so therefore I pay for it. I use MARTA only occasionally but the fact that I contribute means I have an interest in how it is operated. By your logic, anyone paying property taxes to support schools shouldn’t have any say in how they are run unless they have a child enrolled. That is ridiculous and leads to exactly the waste of resources MARTA has been guilty of in the past and present.

Up until this report, most of the complaints have been that Marta does not receive adequate funding. Why in the world would anyone think the solution is to throw more money at the problem. MARTA needs to get their house in order then we can talk about additional funding. So long as I’m contributing to the current source of funding, I’ll keep on complaining about what a poor job they do. Its not my job to figure out how best to do that. The person making $315k a year is more than compensated to come up with those solutions.

Simple Truths

September 26th, 2012
8:55 am

Report: MARTA has problems.

Who didn’t know that before today?

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
8:58 am

The ultimate in lowest-cost public transportation is a design that eliminates as much labor as possible. A rail system modeled after the one used at the airport is a start.

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
9:01 am

“I spotted a bad word: privatization. Which spawns another bad word: profit. We can’t have that sort of thing happening”

oh, FFS … would someone please teach this maroon the difference between a public service and a fortune 500 company???

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

September 26th, 2012
9:02 am

Well, what MARTA needs is a Republican approach to managing it. First of all, they should send the cops out to check on these people that call in sick. Then arrest their azzes if they’re found on the golf course or sleeping in. Next, they need a Fee system, not taxes. Put the cost on the people that use MARTA. And who are those people? Why, poor people, of course. So sock it to the users, not to the poor taxpayers that have to fork over a penny or two every time they buy something. And MARTA still pays too much. They need to fire alot of the drivers that are making 100 thou or so a year and hire people that will work for, say, five bucks a hour. There’s all kind of homeless people in that city that would be happy to work for that money. And it don’t take no Norman Einsteen to figure out how to arrive at a stop 15 minutes late or be surly to the riders.

In no time at all we’d have MARTA humming along. But would they hire us to run it? Noooooo!

Anyhow, up here in Forsyth County we don’t have MARTA so the whole thing can go bust, far as I’m concerned. Besides, we don’t need buses and trains that will haul a bunch of Those People up here to steal our flat screens and then take them back to the slums in Atlanta.

That’s my opinion and it’s very true. Have a good Hump Day, everybody.

Don

September 26th, 2012
9:02 am

ByteMe – Got ilk?
September 26th, 2012
8:45 am

Breeze is an expensive fix for gate jumpers! All they needed were NYCTA-style revolving turnstiles.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 26th, 2012
9:07 am

Breeze is an expensive fix for gate jumpers! All they needed were NYCTA-style revolving turnstiles.

Because of course you have studied the costs and maintenance required and impact while of course realizing that the Breeze system also provides long term ability to track ridership use, station use and time in system as well as having other potentials.

Kneejerk reactions do not make great operational decision making tools

Steve-USA "None of the Above"

September 26th, 2012
9:08 am

Fred-

Thanks for starting my day off with a laugh. Posting a blog piece from Henry Blodget is priceless. Nice to know you get information from a guy who was banned from the securities industry. Banned for being a liar.

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
9:09 am

On a side note, once we manage to maximize efficiencies in all businesses by eliminating all labor costs, who profits?

JohnnyReb

September 26th, 2012
9:10 am

“its (the MARTA board’s) deeper obligation is to those the agency serves, many of whom are low-income seniors, students and workers who often can’t afford other forms of transportation.”

Therein, lady’s and gentlemen, lies the big political divide. I’m sure if Jay looks deep enough he can find where low fare public transportation is a “right.” However, us Conservativesknow that not to be case.

As to putting MARTA on the straight and narrow – hire a Republican to run the place.

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
9:13 am

“Henry Blodget is priceless. Nice to know you get information from a guy who was banned from the securities industry. Banned for being a liar.”

man, I can’t believe I forgot about that …

well remembered!

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
9:15 am

“As to putting MARTA on the straight and narrow – hire a Republican to run the place.”

small enough to drown in the bathtub … that ring any bells???

and, yes, if you’re going to HAVE public transportation, then one of its primary goals should be to be affordable to help the very people who need it!

Brosephus™

September 26th, 2012
9:15 am

George P Burdell: By your logic, anyone paying property taxes to support schools shouldn’t have any say in how they are run unless they have a child enrolled. That is ridiculous and leads to exactly the waste of resources MARTA has been guilty of in the past and present.

Maybe reading comprehension isn’t one of your strong points. Either that, or you simply want to start a discussion with me. I’ll simply ask you to go back and read what I stated and then look at hour ridiculous and meaningless your response is.

Brosephus™
September 26th, 2012
8:31 am

…My personal feeling on MARTA is that if you don’t use or support it, then quit b*tching about it.

Seeing that you support it, as your claim states, then my post has absolutely no bearing on you whatsoever.

GT

September 26th, 2012
9:16 am

This is one of those, “complain all you want to” but the boat is heading towards the falls. It will be fun to watch how much more accurate the conversation becomes when you can hear the falls in the distance. I imagine the Republicans will find a way to leave office about 100 feet from disaster and then put the pressure on the Democrats to fix the problem.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

September 26th, 2012
9:18 am

Perhaps Bain Capital should buy Marta. You know them being so good at turnaround for struggling companies.

Welcome to the Occupation

September 26th, 2012
9:20 am

That will require leadership. The agency is in the process of hiring a new CEO and is down to its final two candidates

Maybe they should hire Mitt Romney.

Seriously.

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
9:23 am

“Maybe they should hire Mitt Romney. ”

yeah – he has an EXCELLENT track record of petitioning the federal government to bail him out!

Don't Tread

September 26th, 2012
9:23 am

“oh, FFS … would someone please teach this maroon the difference between a public service and a fortune 500 company???”

The study suggested replacing some of the outstanding “public service” MARTA employees with outsourced (private, for profit company) labor…which most likely would be from Fortune 500 companies.

So FFS….try reading comprehension.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

September 26th, 2012
9:24 am

“Maybe they should hire Mitt Romney.”
******************

He will be available to start work on November 7th.

Mr. Snarky

September 26th, 2012
9:25 am

Maybe Romney can run MARTA after the election…I think I saw his resume out on Monster.com.

Mr. Snarky

September 26th, 2012
9:26 am

He could reform their healthcare too…he’s got experience with that.

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
9:27 am

Don’t tread – the comment was more about your remark about “Which spawns another bad word: profit. We can’t have that sort of thing happening,”

this is a government service – it shouldn’t be profitable.

cost-efficient, yes

profit-seeking, no.

TaxPayer

September 26th, 2012
9:27 am

One option is to just get rid of MARTA. To hell with the arguing over how much it costs and who should pay. Walk away from it. Don’t hire a replacement CEO. Quit collecting taxes for it. Send out an announcement to all employees that their last paycheck is coming. If the GOP wants it, let ‘em have it.

Welcome to the Occupation

September 26th, 2012
9:28 am

East Cobb RINO: “He will be available to start work on November 7th”

Exactly! That’s what I was thinking.

Brosephus™

September 26th, 2012
9:30 am

this is a government service – it shouldn’t be profitable.

cost-efficient, yes

profit-seeking, no.

Well, the only way a governmental function can profit is if it charges more in taxes than what it uses for revenue. How many people in Georgia would go for such a thing just to ensure a profit?

Marta Rider

September 26th, 2012
9:31 am

Is there some prohibition on Marta hiring white folks???I have never seen one. I mean is there such a thing as white folks affirmative action?There is a limit to that payback thing?? Or do you keep paying back for the past injustices until the system goes broke?

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 26th, 2012
9:35 am

Well, the only way a governmental function can profit is if it charges more in taxes than what it uses for revenue. How many people in Georgia would go for such a thing just to ensure a profit?

True. But in some things we allow a “profit” to subsidize what would otherwise be paid in taxes. The government runs a lottery to subsidize education. I believe, but have not looked at lately, that the airport fees paid by the airlines exceed the actual gate costs to subsidize other airport costs. But I agree overall the net impact of government should trend toward cost efficiency and break even tax revenue.

USMC

September 26th, 2012
9:35 am

“With an aggressive response to the audit, Byte, MARTA can correct its problems and then turn to the state and say, in effect: “OK, what’s your excuse NOW?”–JAY BOOMAN

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, SGT CARTER!

Jay, I applaud you for your honesty and comments on this story. This is a real problem for our city and region. Why shouldn’t Atlanta have a viable rail system like most modern cities.

One of my reasons for voting against the T-SPLAT was the fact that MARTA has a history of squandering resources and racial politics, which both detract from the mission of an efficient rail system. Another reason was the fact that Atlanta can’t or won’t synchronize the traffic lights.

Anyway, I often travel on MARTA on Sundays when I run the Peachtree Road race route down Peachtree Street to Piedmont Park. I walk back up to Peachtree and through Midtown to catch a bus back to Buckhead. (which takes forever for a bus to finally come by)

The MARTA bus, while equipped to give change to a rider, does not offer change to the rider. EX: if the fare is $2.50 and you feed the machine on the bus three one dollar bills, THEY DON’T GIVE YOU THE .50 THAT THEY OWE YOU. The driver just says ,”sorry, we don’t give change”. Are you freaking kidding me? What business doesn’t give you change? You end up paying $3.00 for a$2.50 ride. That is totally “Bush(not to be confused with W) League!” :-)

Brosephus™

September 26th, 2012
9:36 am

Is there some prohibition on Marta hiring white folks???I have never seen one.

That’s because you never looked.

http://www.itsmarta.com/executive-management-team.aspx

Ted Basta
Chief of Business Support Services

Theodore J. Basta, Jr., is the Chief of Business Support Services at MARTA. In this capacity, he serves as a key member of the Executive Management Team providing direction and oversight to all business units for the Authority. Mr. Basta directly oversees the activities of the Budget, Finance & Accounting; Contracts & Procurement; Human Resources, Labor Relations, Training, DEO, Employee Availability; Information Technology; Research & Development; and Administrative Services’ Divisions.

USinUK - thug with a uterus ... and former Girl Scout

September 26th, 2012
9:36 am

“Is there some prohibition on Marta hiring white folks???I have never seen one”

wow.

classy.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

September 26th, 2012
9:37 am

Is there some prohibition on Marta hiring white folks???I have never seen one

I can put you in touch with a guide dog organization if you need one. I am sure I have an extra pair of dark sunglasses around here too. My concern is that even the seeing impaired seem to have more intellectual ability and can think that you are exhibiting. Maybe you put your cane in the wrong orifice?

Call It Like It Is

September 26th, 2012
9:38 am

And this is a surprise to anyone? Kyle did a 4 part series on Marta calling all this out months ago. All this does is validate what most of us already knew. Marta is not a well-tuned machine and has no business asking for help from the rest of the state till they can prove they have management in place to take care of business. It has nothing to do with right, left or color. That’s a cop-out. I mean were dealing with a company that had to pay out $79,000 in toll fines this year alone from the Ga 400 cruise lane. The tolls themselves were just $2600. Fifty seven laptops stolen, valued at $55,000 and it goes on and on. But yes, let’s throw more money at the problem that will fix it.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

September 26th, 2012
9:38 am

I would not want to sit next to someone on a Marta bus after they have run 6 miles.