MARTA’s response to my series

As promised, here is MARTA’s response to my series of columns about the transit agency: its perennial budgetary problems, false hope in ending the 50-50 restriction on its sales-tax revenues, out-of-control spending even before the recession hit, and one possible partial solution.

I’ll let readers judge the agency’s response for themselves without adding my own opinions here, although I will respond to readers in the comments thread.

You can also read the piece here. In addition, a different MARTA board member wrote a response published by Creative Loafing.

By Michael W. Tyler

9:42 a.m. Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published a four-part series by Opinion columnist Kyle Wingfield that purported to examine the budgetary dilemma confronting MARTA and offered suggestions for future consideration that underscored some of the intricacies of running the nation’s ninth-largest transit system.

While Wingfield’s series has helped to further the dialogue regarding the future of regional transit in our state, this discussion would benefit from additional factual information.

In order to better grasp MARTA’s current plight, it is important to first understand that the financial foundation upon which MARTA was built was flawed from the very beginning.

MARTA was originally conceived as a five-county system composed of Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton. When only Fulton and DeKalb voted to join the system, the potential for more favorable economies of scale of a five-county system was lost and the agency was forced to rely on significantly less sales tax revenue than expected.

To make matters worse, unlike every other major transit system in the nation, MARTA has never received any significant, dedicated funding from the state of Georgia.

Compounding matters even further was the Legislature’s restriction that allowed MARTA to only use 50 percent of its sales tax revenues on operations while mandating that the other 50 percent be used for capital projects. Such a restriction does not apply to any other transit system nationally or in Georgia.

The conventional wisdom today is that the Legislature imposed this onerous restriction 39 years ago to ensure MARTA’s long-term expansion. But as former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell pointed out in a March 19, 2009, AJC opinion piece (“No reason now to deny MARTA its sales tax revenue” ) segregationist Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox insisted on the restriction as a means of forcing higher fares to prevent MARTA from being overrun by those whom he deemed undesirable.

Given the tenuous funding foundation upon which MARTA was originally built, it is not surprising that the recent economic recession would have a devastating impact on its finances.

What may be surprising to many, however, is how well MARTA has actually managed its limited resources. MARTA is one of the most efficient and cost-effective transit agencies in the nation.

According to the Federal Transit Administration, MARTA spends less money per mile for bus service than any of its peer transit agencies in the country, except for Phoenix’s Valley Metro.

Similarly, at the local level, MARTA’s bus operating costs per trip are lower than those of Cobb County Transit, Gwinnett County Transit and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Moreover, contrary to popular belief, according to the Dash Report, an independent survey of transit system labor rates nationwide, MARTA’s unionized employees are among the lowest paid in the nation compared to their peers at agencies of similar size. Furthermore, MARTA’s 1.54 percent increase in the top wage rates for operators was the lowest in the entire country over the past 10 years.

These statistics highlight the fallacy behind Wingfield’s notion that MARTA could become more cost-effective through privatization. Cobb County Transit, Gwinnett County Transit and GRTA all utilize private contractors and, as noted above, have higher operating costs than MARTA.

In addition, even if MARTA did have inflated union wages, which it clearly does not, federal law requires that any private company that took over MARTA operations would be mandated to assume and maintain the union work force and the attendant collective bargaining agreement — or risk losing billions in federal funding.

A careful examination of the facts clearly shows that MARTA has responded in a fiscally responsible manner to the current economic crisis that has unfortunately wreaked havoc on every governmental institution in the state that is dependent upon sales tax revenues.

Among other things, this past fiscal year, MARTA raised fares, reduced service, withheld merit salary increases, mandated 10-day furloughs for all nonunion employees and required these employees to pay a higher share of the cost of health care benefits.

All these cost-cutting measures will continue over the course of the next fiscal year. More importantly, by the end of this month, the MARTA board of directors will adopt a balanced budget for fiscal year 2011 that will preserve as much vital service as possible, but will further reduce expenditures through the implementation of additional painful, yet necessary, service reductions.

The recent passage of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 does not provide any immediate new revenue to MARTA.

However, it does provide a basis for MARTA, at some point in the future, to possibly obtain some much-needed additional financial support, at least for capital projects and for the operation and maintenance of new projects.

More importantly, this new legislation provides the state and the Atlanta region with a fresh opportunity to actually realize the dream of creating a truly regional transit system.

Fortunately, such a regional system can be built from the solid $6.5 billion core constructed and maintained over the course of the past 40 years by the dedicated and hard-working employees of MARTA.

Michael W. Tyler is chairman of the board at MARTA.

72 comments Add your comment

TehranDawg

June 9th, 2010
10:22 am

“Similarly, at the local level, MARTA’s bus operating costs per trip are lower than those of Cobb County Transit, Gwinnett County Transit and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.”

If thats true, than all the suburbanites can eat cake in talking about how poorly MARTA is run.

Morrus

June 9th, 2010
10:27 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

Jason

June 9th, 2010
10:34 am

Everything in Chairman Tyler’s response is public information that could have easily been discovered with a minimal amount of research by Mr. Wingfield before publishing his series of articles. While I realize that Mr. Wingfield is an opinion columnist instead of a journalist, there is still a responsibility to research facts before communicating opinions that have no basis in reality.

None of the data cited is locked away. The FTA database is online as are MARTA’s financial reports. It seems that is it easier to start with a politically based conclusion and then go hunting for tidbits to cherry pick that supports that conclusion. Seems like a rather unethical way of doing things.

To quote the Good Book, Exodus 20:16 ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’ We all one day have to stand before our maker and face up to the lives we lived… political opinion columnists included.

The Udder Side!!!!!

June 9th, 2010
10:36 am

Where is Kyles’ response to this letter??? Could it be that somehow the facts have tripped him up?

Churchill's MOM

June 9th, 2010
10:41 am

Looks like they are about to lower their cost some more by eliminating unnecessary services. All we hear about are cuts in service, what are they going to cut in their bloated overhead? hell will freeze over before I vote to give MARTA 1 dime.

Junior Samples

June 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Kyle, I’ll ask again.
Do you ride MARTA everyday to work?
Or do you just like to complain about it?
Unless you start championing state resources for MARTA…
Sit down. Shut up.

2by4

June 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Unless Atlanta tackles the transportation problem it will never be a big city. If you take a look at all the major cities in the world transportation is a key feature.

Cyril

June 9th, 2010
10:52 am

TehranDawg, the data Mr. Tyler reports likely is true. The problem is that he is comparing apples to oranges. MARTA bus system is very different from Cobb or Gwinnett’s bus system and extremely different from GRTA’s Xpress bus service. The number he reports is cost per trip. Clearly, a trip on GRTA’s service which probably averages a good 25-40 miles is going to cost more than a .5 to 5 mile trip on a MARTA bus. The comparison to Cobb and Gwinnett is only slightly better because not only do they offer local routes within the county, but they also operate express service to get into the city. This again skews the “cost per trip.”

FYI, I’m in no way supporting what Kyle “reported” either, but Mr. Tyler probably should choose his comparables a bit more on an equal basis. Otherwise, he is just skewing things like the original opinion pieces.

DettafromATL

June 9th, 2010
10:57 am

For over seven (7) years I was a MARTA patron, by choice, I think one of MARTA’s biggest failures is attracting those that “don’t” need to ride MARTA as a patron. MARTA will never prosper until they are more accountable for their funds, make better spending decisions and improve MARTA so those people that have access to a car see MARTA as a viable transportation alternative.

I started riding MARTA as part of the Clean Air Campaign and I continued to do so as my part in saving our environment. I must admit riding MARTA has been difficult. MARTA trains are open season for pan handlers, illegal vendors selling everything from food, socks, to pirated DVD’s (even porn) and CD’s. I’ve been on trains where teen age and other patrons have played loud profanity infused rap music and used loud profanity the entire ride. I’ve been on a train where a man and woman did everything, but have sex in one of the back seats…and by the way I sit in the first car of the train becasue I’ve always thought it was safe. I’ve learned that patrons take safety in their own hands when riding MARTA.

MARTA should spend more money on making sure that MARTA trains are safe and secure for their riders. Right now I don’t see that. As a passenger on MARTA I’ve witnessed over four physical altercations. One was so severe that for months I drove to work every day before gradually going back to riding MARTA. MARTA does not have any police or securtiy protection on their cars. I think an increase of security on their trains would greatly improve the number of people the utilize MARTA, and improve MARTA bottomline. Oh, and just last week while riding in the first car of the train a fight broke out where four male teens/young adults assulted another teen. Thankfully, a few brave older men on the train managed to break the the fight up, but not before patrons on the train were put in jeopardy. The conductor never left his both during the entire altercation and a policeman was never called to the scene. A policeman did not appear until the train had reached its final stop. I sent an e-mail to MARTA and received what I called a generic response. I received a call from MARTA police Sergeant who explained to me how short staffed they were and they do the best they can…blah, blah, blah. Just a lot of excuses as far as I was concerned. Needless to say, I no longer ride the MARTA train.

Being held accountable for the money it spends on operations and other business expeditures must definitely be a part of any MARTA improvement, but assuring the safety of its passengers should also be at the top of MARTA’s list.

DK

June 9th, 2010
11:06 am

MARTA definitely can use a lot of improvement but is making it because people can’t afford to buy a car and insurance not to mention the parking fee that has to be paid in majority of places. I was in that situation myself just a few years ago. You just have to be cautious on your timing and location which was a real inconvience but you do what you can. My other concern had always been for children. Some of these crazy drivers don’t know how to drive and LOVE to slam on brakes and all. I do wish they would offer alternatives to car seats or something like that like they do for handicapped people in wheel chairs. If they could put seat belts around the seats or something and have it hook up at the chest and legs like a regular car seat without the seat it self. Not sure if that makes since, but instead of putting carseats due to the lack of space, just put harnesses/seatbelts around the seats for use.

MiltonMan

June 9th, 2010
11:16 am

Tyler = clueless. Funny that this clown does not mention any of the plenty negative facts about MARTA:

Spent $700,000 in 2001 for an “image study”. This included the possibility of placing Coke vending machines in the MARTA stations to reduce crime – you now have a coke & smile but do not commit crime.

The MARTA board members agreed to buy buses/trains from a French company rather to purpose the equipment from a local Georgia Company

Cobb county voters turned done the option of joinign MARTA. But Taylor fails to mention this.

Gwinnett & Clayton voters decided to vote against the penny sales tax to funs this. No mention of this by Taylor???

Crime is higher around MARTA stations than general public.

MARTA unionized workers are pathetic – don’t care, act like you are bothering them when you ask them a question, etc., etc.

The Breeze card can only be used by one individual at a time. I took my daughter to a game at Philips & had to buy another Breeze card just for here even though I had $20 credit on mine.

etc.
etc.
etc.

Kyle Wingfield

June 9th, 2010
11:23 am

TehranDawg: Cyril is right about the metric Tyler used to compare MARTA to Cobb, Gwinnett and GRTA. Notice that in the previous paragraph he referred to “money per mile” rather than “money per trip.” It seems very likely to me that the cost per trip is going to be higher when you’re talking about going from Lawrenceville to Five Points rather than Va-Hi to Five Points.

Also, and this gets to Jason’s point: I did use the FTA figures. But whereas I used very specific comparisons on bus-service costs — either to other cities’ transit agencies by name, or to “the nation’s 50 largest public bus systems” or “the top 20″ — Tyler’s piece refers only to “peer transit agencies.” Which ones are those? And on what basis are those agencies, as opposed to other ones, considered MARTA’s “peers”?

Las Vegas provided 218.4 million passenger miles of bus service in 2008; MARTA provided 213.5 million — a difference of about 2 percent. So, I would consider those two agencies peers. Yet Las Vegas’s cost per passenger mile — again, according to FTA statistics — was 57 cents and MARTA’s was 93 cents. The other city comparisons which I used tell similar stories. But apparently, MARTA does not consider them its peers and thus dismisses them.

I’d also point out that paragraphs 4-7 simply rehearse the same complaints MARTA has been making for decades. The first column in my series suggested that it’s time that MARTA stopped planning and budgeting as if they were suddenly going to change, and start operating as if they are will continue to remain in place. Tyler’s piece, it seems to me, signals that MARTA will choose to stick with its same old false hopes.

And finally (for now): Junior Samples, I’ll answer you again: I ride MARTA to work at least four days a week.

JF McNamara

June 9th, 2010
11:27 am

Kyle,

I would complain that you did a half baked job, but I’m happy that you tried to tackle something original. While some of the things you uncovered weren’t all the way right, at least you produced something worth while that is causing debate. That’s how change gets started, and you shouldn’t feel bad at all. I’d also like to commend you for posting the reply. A lot of “journalist” would’ve buried it away in the nether regions of the print edition. That took some courage.

Cyril,

Are they apples and oranges with everyone in the nation? You took his examination of regional, which he used as a buffeted argument, and tore it apart but completely dismissed his national figure.

“According to the Federal Transit Administration, MARTA spends less money per mile for bus service than any of its peer transit agencies in the country, except for Phoenix’s Valley Metro.”

rdh

June 9th, 2010
11:34 am

Actually, I think most of stipulated to most of what the MARTA reply says. What they DON’T say is how they solve the problem of getting from Alpharetta or Buford to Marietta in an hour and fifteen minutes. What they DON’T solve is the problem of making Gwinnett and Cobb WANT to join the MARTA system. You can’t, in good conscience, claim that Gwinnett is racist. Look at the diverse makeup of the county! Solve the problem of getting a rider from one point on the Perimeter (Northlake mall, for example) to another point( Georgia Perimeter College) in 20 minutes. They are 9 miles apart and 15 minutes by car. Citizens in Alpharetta will be waiting 20 more years before the train comes up that way! I keep naming my particular issues with the system… but I think that they are representative of the reasons that the northern counties refuse to join.

MARTA is so caught up in their own rhetoric that they utterly fail to see the true problems that are holding them back. If you want the northern counties to join and if you want state money, present a plan that makes Cobb and Gwinnett WANT to join.

rdh

June 9th, 2010
11:37 am

BTW, I know I rambled a bit there, but my point was that rehashing the past is not going to get MARTA anywhere. They need to entice counties and funding in a clear concise manner, rather than whining about what was and what other cities get from their states.

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
11:38 am

“In addition, a different MARTA board member wrote a response published by Creative Loafing.”

Didn’t the CL go bankrupt?

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
11:39 am

The best thing MARTA can do is to go bankrupt and shut down. Everything about that transit system is screwed.

TehranDawg

June 9th, 2010
11:47 am

Cyril, Wingfield- Including the fact that Mr. Wingfield has lived overseas and that each statement made may be correct (apples to oranges), how efficient is it that we have to have buses go from Lawrenceville to 5 Points? What other major city has to have buses drive 25-40 miles from the suburbs as a transportation mechanism.

Kyle Wingfield

June 9th, 2010
12:04 pm

JF: Um, thanks…I think. I’m curious what you think I got wrong. See my 11:23 comment about some of what Tyler wrote.

Tehran: It depends on how you think about efficiency. What would it cost to build rail all the way out to Lawrenceville? How much would it cost to improve the bus transit? How many people would have to take bus or rail to justify either one’s cost? How many people would be willing to take bus or rail from Lawrenceville to Five Points? How many people make that trip every day (as opposed to going to Perimeter or Cobb County or wherever else)?

The scale of metro Atlanta and its suburbs, as well as the population density, has a lot to do with how you think about transit here and compare it to other major cities. You can complain about the fact that we’ve developed that way, but it doesn’t change the facts.

Van Jones

June 9th, 2010
12:04 pm

How much does Beverly Scott make? And is she worth it?

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
12:19 pm

“What other major city has to have buses drive 25-40 miles from the suburbs as a transportation mechanism.”

Zero.

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

TehranDawg

Can you imagine what would happen to a busload of peeps on I-20 if a bus broke down? For one, gunfire would break out as well as the bus being flipped over and set on fire.

David S

June 9th, 2010
12:25 pm

Marta is a monopoly, GRTA is an monopoly, and so is every other transit authority in the country. That a government created monopoly is more costly in the hands of a private operator only serves to make the case that republicans are completely misguided in their typical push for “privatization.” Privatization as it is almost always proposed only transfers the government monopoly to a private company who pays a huge amount of money to the government for the priviledge of operating the monopoly. They must then make a profit AND recoup the costs of the PAYOFF (call it what it is). Crony Capitalism as promoted and practised so well by republicans since the days of the corrupt first republican president Lincoln (remember the railroads?) is the reason why true supporters of liberty and freedom find this party’s behavior so appalling. Worse, it has given Free Market Capitalism a bad name since most republicans actually think that is what goes on in this country. A completely private system of transportation would include free market competition among numerous businesess, free of government interference and regulation. Market pressures would both increase service quality and drive down prices. Neither of these can happen with a monopoly, no matter how much freedom they are given with their budget.

The Marta response was really only partially correct. The “financial foundation” was not only flawed from the beginning, the ECONOMIC foundation was flawed from the minute anyone actually thought that a government monopoly could provide better and cheaper service than a truly free market competitive private sector alternative.

The Carnivore

June 9th, 2010
12:36 pm

Wouldn’t ridership actually increase if blacks were forbidden to ride MARTA? It seems that safety issues are preventing MARTA from reaching its full potential. Outlying counties would be more likely to approve MARTA expansion if such restrictions were in place.

Junior Samples

June 9th, 2010
12:58 pm

Do you get to work on time the 4 days a week you ride MARTA?
You’re reducing the wear and tear on your car.
You’re saving money, time, and traffic frustration.
Do you feel the cost to too much?

As a fellow Breeze card holder, I am much happier about taking the train instead of driving. Failing to see things as you do.

Stop The Lies

June 9th, 2010
1:00 pm

Carnivore, surely you jest. Jim Crow’s been dead for over forty years; heck, even South Africa burried apartehid.

Don

June 9th, 2010
1:04 pm

“What other major city has to have buses drive 25-40 miles from the suburbs as a transportation mechanism.”

NOT zero. Look at NJT routes out of Phila, Houston’s bus network, Shortline routes out of NYC just for starters….

Now, how many cities this size rely SOLELY on commuter bus routes for suburban to urban transportation? Fewer, but still not zero.

Don

June 9th, 2010
1:06 pm

MARTA’s response is more telling by what word wasn’t in it than any that were….PRODUCTIVITY.

Elvis

June 9th, 2010
1:07 pm

Unions suck,

Nope. That was bankruptcy protection. They’re out of it now under new management and still publishing.

Stop The Lies

June 9th, 2010
1:09 pm

Carnivore, ride MARTA’s trains traveling N/S around the time Woordward Academy’s students (the little wealthy kids) are traveling to and from school. These kids are unfazed by “Blacks”, and they are quite sophisticated at using public transit. They probably have traveled internationally and have been exposed to other cultures.

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
1:12 pm

Elvis

I guess they didn’t learn their lesson the first time.

HDB`

June 9th, 2010
1:17 pm

The Carnivore June 9th, 2010
12:36 pm

To answer your ludicrous proposal: wouldn’t ridership increase if whites had to pay toll on the expressways to get into and out of the city….so that they would be forced to pay their fair share in commuter taxes??

Now to answer logically:

What really needs to be done with MARTA and the regional transit systems is the creation of synergy, i.e., have all of the buses feed into the rail system so that commuters coming into the city are iding the train versus having downtown filled with bus traffic. Create cross-town links via bus systems that can also feed the train…i.e., Alpharetta to Marietta, Marietta to Six Flags, et. al.. A regional, synergistic transportation plan would be effective for ALL metro Atlanta counties, ease traffic, and vault this city into the 21st Century….

IMHO…..

Claude

June 9th, 2010
1:21 pm

Kyle,

Thanks for your series. It shined some much needed light on the basic question, “Why is MARTA in such financial trouble?” The system after all is funded largely through sales taxes. Those taxes have been affected by the recession, but much less so than property taxes or income taxes. I don’t think there’s been any decline in ridership so that source of revenue has been steady.

How exactly does MARTA want to be funded? MARTA can wish for “dedicated state funding” all it wants but that’s a totally unrealistic wish, and not for any racial reasons. Just drive to most of the small towns or rural areas in Georgia. You’ll see plenty of shuttered downtown stores and lots of other indications of poverty and economic decline. Taxing the rest of a mostly poor Georgia to send money to MARTA is simply not going to happen.

TehranDawg

June 9th, 2010
1:23 pm

Suburbanites should pay their fair share (ie, parking tax). Nothing is worse than on a hot summer day watching GRTA and CCT buses idling downtown polluting the air. But of course, those riders don’t care as the pollution is not occurring in their far-flung enclave. The buses should go as far as the nearest MARTA station.

CJ

June 9th, 2010
1:24 pm

MARTA chairman: “Compounding matters even further was the Legislature’s restriction that allowed MARTA to only use 50 percent of its sales tax revenues on operations while mandating that the other 50 percent be used for capital projects. Such a restriction does not apply to any other transit system nationally or in Georgia.

To those complaining about MARTA’s poor service and security, there’s your answer (or a significant part of it).

In his series, Kyle attempted to dismiss the negative impact of and justify the unjustifiable 50-50 restriction as, essentially, being for MARTA’s own good (Kyle wrote, “…all of that strikes me as a reason to keep the 50-50 restriction and the discipline it imposes on the agency”).

But to my knowledge, he has never justified why state legislators, most of whom represent rural districts, should have any say whatsoever in MARTA’s operations—especially considering that the state provides MARTA with no financial support. Instead, Kyle has taken the decidedly anti-conservative view that rural state legislators know better than the two counties the fund MARTA, MARTA’s board (excluding members appointed by the state), and MARTA’s management. The irony is rich.

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
1:35 pm

OOH OOH HDB`!!!! Are you gonna tell us for the millionth time how white people are racists?

Cyril

June 9th, 2010
1:42 pm

JF @ 11:27, I wasn’t dismissing his statement concerning national statistics he reported; I disagreed with his local comparison choices only. I’m not a transit expert and without some digging, that I do not care to do, I could not agree or disagree with Mr. Tyler’s national comparisons. I was merely pointing out that his local comparisons may not be fair comparisons to make.

Tehran, I think the express bus concept is pretty well founded in most large metropolitan areas. Now, if rail transit was serving these same areas as well, then you could be duplicating service and siphoning off riders. In the case of Atlanta, we don’t have that situation now. So, express bus is a flexible, short-term cost efficient means of providing transit for suburban commuters (which like all modes of travel will not be completely paid for by fares, so please don’t go there). At some point the long-term cost/benefits have to come into consideration for growing ridership, impacting development patterns, increasing property values, and the like.

TehranDawg

June 9th, 2010
1:45 pm

Cyril- I see you point. However, I live in Fulton County and pay the 1 cent sales tax to fund MARTA operations. Why should be tax money (state) also go to fund GRTA, when in the same breath no rural areas or counties such as Cobb and Gwinnett want to spend a dime to fund MARTA? Unless they’re going to the Braves game. Seems a bit unfair from my POV.

Cyril

June 9th, 2010
1:57 pm

Tehran, I live in DeKalb, and I pay that same 1 cent tax. Let me make it clear, that I’m not hollaring my support for GRTA. I was merely responding to your question about express buses elsewhere. But I do believe GRTA buses serve a good purpose by removing cars from the roadway, making it somewhat better for people to get from point A to B, which is the same reason I’m supportive of MARTA.

Question for you would be this. If Cobb, Gwinnett, etc. are not providing funds to MARTA, then why would you want buses that serve them to stop as a last stop at a far end MARTA station; thereby eating into the capacity the trains can serve and generating the need for additional service that they are not funding?

HDB`

June 9th, 2010
2:06 pm

Unions suck June 9th, 2010
1:35 pm

Look…I was answering stupidity WITH stupidity….from Carnivore (if you’d bothered to read his statement)….

As I stated…synergy is needed between ALL of the transit systems so that the metro area is covered…..

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
2:14 pm

“Look…I was answering stupidity WITH stupidity”

So many ways to run with that statement…..but Kyle would ban me.

Yeah, I read Carnivores statement. MARTA has a 99% black ridership. Gangs use MARTA to travel around from place to place. This issue can’t be pinned on whitey.

In case you missed it, this is why white people don’t want to ride MARTA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXz-tlK2pkI

Peter Haskett

June 9th, 2010
2:30 pm

“Las Vegas provided 218.4 million passenger miles of bus service in 2008; MARTA provided 213.5 million — a difference of about 2 percent. So, I would consider those two agencies peers. Yet Las Vegas’s cost per passenger mile — again, according to FTA statistics — was 57 cents and MARTA’s was 93 cents”

While you consider the 2 agencies peers, I do not. You elude to the way ATL has developed over the years in your later post, and I think it needs to be considered further when comparing MARTA to Las Vegas public trans agencies. First of all, Metropolitan Atlanta is the ninth largest metropolitan area in the country, inhabited by approximately 5.5 million people. Populations: City of Las Vegas 478,434; City of Henderson 175,381; City of N. Las Vegas — 115,488; Clark County 1,375,765; Nevada — 1,998,257. So Metro ATL has nearly 3 times as many potential commuters as Las Vegas.

Furthermore, I doubt anyone would argue that a vast majority of Las Vegas users of public transportation use it for tourist purposes to get to the casinos, which are generally in the same centralized location. The average ATL commuter is going to work in a wide variety of areas that are far apart. Tourists undoubtedly make up a smaller percentage of people who use MARTA. The only comparable I see regarding Las Vegas and ATL as peers is that Las Vegas, like Atlanta, brings in a very high amount of state revenue.

Additionally, transportation from the Las Vegas airport is provided by the city shuttle. When I last went in 2005 the price was $8 one way and $15 round trip, airport to hotel, regardless of distance. Our trip from the airport to the Luxor was about 5 miles. That’s actually about $3/mile. In Atlanta, wherever you go, the cost is $3 on MARTA. From ATL to North Fulton county the cost is about 3 cents per mile.

This is not to mention that Las Vegas is a classic lots-and-blocks city that experienced most of its growth after 1911. It is flat and its roads are mostly neat squares with streets running north and south, avenues running east and west. ATL is a classic metes-and-bounds city, with hills, curves, and bottlenecking traffic at every bridge that crosses the Chattahoochie. This city was thriving for centuries before the dawn of the car. Not to mention all the Peachtree roads. It would be interesting to see how much gas MARTA buses (and cars for that matter) waste idling while trying to cross the bridges. Atlanta has far more complex roadways than Las Vegas. Las Vegas is a gambling tourist center. Atlanta is the transportation gateway to the southeast.

Aquagirl

June 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

I anxiously await Kyle’s next series: A detailed breakdown of how Gulf Coast residents can just “suck it up” since they aren’t going to get any help. Most of the populace doesn’t live there and doesn’t give a crap, why try and convince anyone to address the real problems?

It’ll be followed by ablockbuster multi-part schematic on how Titantic’s passengers could have re-arranged the deck chairs as a small comfort. Expecting more lifeboats to be provided on future ships is obviously a pipe dream.

Unions suck

June 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

Aquagirl

Are you an Arcade Fire fan?

Hobo

June 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

TehranDawg

June 9th, 2010
3:27 pm

Cyril- Because taxpayers in Atlanta pay for the construction and maintenance of the municipal street system that more suburban residents take advantage of. Yet, they complain about how bad the city’s roads are. Take a look at any Atlanta street between 3-6, and you’ll see why. I’m in favor of a parking tax instituted by the city. Those funds can then be used for the many infrastructure projects that need to be addressed. Dropping these ‘commuter’ buses off at the nearest train station would force its riders to use MARTA. Why have a bus from Gwinnett pass stations from Doraville to Arts Center, and drop passengers off in the vicinity of Five Points when a train can do the same thing? Seems like there’s a reason that isn’t happening, because this system doesn’t seem efficient.

DannyX

June 9th, 2010
3:37 pm

Those suburban bus systems are also getting state funding. MARTA gets nothing from the state.

Those state subsidized riders also get free MARTA transfers.

Aquagirl

June 9th, 2010
3:41 pm

@ Union, can’t say I am…I’m surprised you’ve heard of them, I thought listening to indie music turned you gay.

My Personal Saviour Rush Limbaugh

June 9th, 2010
3:43 pm

If we could have seperate cars for suburban riders and urban ones I think more people will ride marta.
Thats not discrimination if its seperate but equal.
As it stands now there is too much violence perpetrated by the urban youth who ride marta. those are the same youths who perpetrated the hate crimes in peidmont park last week.
They keep honest taxpayers from riding marta and taking advantage of downtown.

over-it

June 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

I take MARTA everyday out of necessity – at least twice a week our morning bus driver stops at QT for coffee while we wait. In the afternoons the trains are so staggard that you are lucky if you make your connection to your bus. They are propsing all these cuts and want you to come out and make your voice known. I have done my survey and online comments but I truthfully don’t think any of this will help. UNLESS THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE PROPSING THE CUTS ACTUALLY RIDE THE BUS/TRAIN – then they have NO CLUE as to the impact of the riders! They are literlly cutting out the only transportation some people have! So are they to MOVE or FIND NEW JOBS?

They need to increase the fares depending on your destination – if you are going North Springs to the Airport why not charge $4 one way – they need to increase the single rides while rewarding the monthly/weekly riders.

All they are doing is making me put more money aside for a car.

Took me almost 1 hour 45 minutes to get home yesterday and I am so over it!