When the economy went bust a couple of years ago, tax revenue fell everywhere. But at MARTA, passenger fares and other income meant that the agency’s total revenue actually rose between 2007 and 2009 by 1 percent, or about $5 million.
On the other side of the ledger, however, apparently no one got the memo. Operating expenses jumped by more than $60 million, or 19 percent, over those two years.
Transportation — that is, passenger service: Up 12 percent.
Maintenance — Up 21 percent.
Administrative — that is, overhead: Up 33 percent.
When looking at MARTA’s finances, we tend to examine the budget gap in terms of revenue — the transit agency’s lack of state funding, or its disappointing sales-tax proceeds due to the recession.
As with many public entities, however, expenses tell the real story. Deficit spending was the