MARTA may charge by the mile or time of day

In less than two years, MARTA could move to a system that charges riders according to the distance traveled – or the time of day.

MARTA chief Beverly Scott told state lawmakers this afternoon that the transit agency is considering a shift away from the flat-fare charge system – which allows a rider traveling a train from Dunwoody to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to pay the same as a rider traveling one or two stops.

Scott said a recommendation will be made to the MARTA governing board by the end of April. If approved, the new pricing system could be in place by 2012.

The variable rate system could be applied to both bus and rail systems, or simply the rail system, Scott said. For some short-distance riders, the new system could result in a fare decrease, she told a meeting of House members representing DeKalb and Fulton counties.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

219 comments Add your comment

bob

February 5th, 2010
1:52 pm

FU marta, marta

Brad

February 5th, 2010
1:53 pm

This seems to make sense, they do it in DC and seems much more equitable.

AtlantaGrl

February 5th, 2010
1:53 pm

As a resident of the ATL, I’d support having MARTA charge more to riders connecting from other counties like Cobb and Gwinnett and Clayton – if possible. If your county benefits, you oughta pay.

Cahos

February 5th, 2010
1:53 pm

Marta sucks in North Fulton by not existing and will suck even more

Bill Campbell

February 5th, 2010
1:58 pm

Should charge extra for trains/stations with no pee smell

Julie

February 5th, 2010
1:58 pm

The Tube in London this as well. It is, in my opinion, a very effective mass transit system.

neal kelley

February 5th, 2010
1:59 pm

yeah…. thats going to get more people to ride MARTA!! What fools.. if I have to pay extra to travel a longer distance.. people will start driving more…. and will result in even more traffic on the roads.. that is really a stupid idea…

jm

February 5th, 2010
1:59 pm

A fantastic idea, and well overdue and needed. Its common sense. Any other business would have started doing this long ago….

JCfromINDY

February 5th, 2010
2:01 pm

How about Marta provide better service, and cleaner trains before they go fare shopping. This would make more sense. Why should i be charged extra for living in Dunwoody. It would be more feasible, to make people pay for parking at every train station DUH!

Art Vandalay

February 5th, 2010
2:01 pm

the DC Metro is one of the best transit systems in the world and it works for them. If this allows MARTA to be more efficent and even expand at least in North Fulton up to Alpharetta then why would you be against it.

CarDriver

February 5th, 2010
2:02 pm

This is just another way to help fund an inept transit system that cannot manage money. If they start charging by mile from North Springs to the airport, then they’ll lose the $10 per day parking fee from me and many other travelers.

Brittany

February 5th, 2010
2:02 pm

The sad thing is IF Marta chooses to change to this system, Marta will CONTINUE to have its “financial difficulties”….. And Marta need newer buses because I rode one certain route and the bus shut off at the red light and on another occasion in the middle of the road??

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 5th, 2010
2:03 pm

You know, I’d feel much better about this proposal if it were coming from someone else other than an employee of the much-maligned MARTA, although it’s way past time that they finally came to this conclusion (Washington D.C.’s Metro has been doing graduated peak-hour pricing for years). Although I am well aware that the problem isn’t just with MARTA alone. The problem is in the way the entire Atlanta Region and the state of Georgia approaches transportation management and also for that matter, governance as a whole.

Art Vandalay

February 5th, 2010
2:04 pm

I think a little of the point IS to charge you more for living in Dunwoody. Smart growth models mean discouraging people from living somewhere like Dunwoody and commuting to Midtown or Downtown instead of just creating livable in town neighborhoods. It will encourage smart growth while also giving MARTA needed revenue

PJ

February 5th, 2010
2:04 pm

Everyone should have seen this coming once Marta introduced the Breeze card and mandated that riders use it to get out of a train station.

Art Vandalay

February 5th, 2010
2:05 pm

MARTA is not mismanaged when you look at the fact it has run for 40 years as the largest transportation system in north america without state funding, explain that to me.

Army Brat

February 5th, 2010
2:09 pm

Cahos…..You’re right ..It doesn’t exist well in south fulton either i.e fairburn, union city, palmetto.

wsj

February 5th, 2010
2:10 pm

I’m worried about the overhead costs of such a system. Flat fare is so simple. And would it affect the weekly/monthly ride-as-much-as-you-want commuters? Might help if MARTA addressed the problem of gate hoppers.

Life on Marta

February 5th, 2010
2:10 pm

I do feel a little guilty knowing that I can ride MARTA from Doraville (near my house) all the way to the airport for $2.

Really?

February 5th, 2010
2:12 pm

Are you trying to get even fewer people to use MARTA? If so, do this.

Justice

February 5th, 2010
2:18 pm

Marta has major financial problems, and I know this is just one of their attempts to find a way to operate the struggling system after the stimulus funds keeping them alive this year runs out.

What we need is for MARTA to be able to control their own finances instead of having arcane restrictions imposed by the State. We are the only large city whose transportation system receives no money from the state. How can we continue to operate with funding from only two counties (Fulton and Dekalb), half of which the Governor demands is not touched for operational expenses?

Nativeson71

February 5th, 2010
2:19 pm

You can charge less for less, or more for more…but at the end of the day MARTA will still not have a critical mass – till the metro counties start working together.
OH – and most people don’t ride MARTA becuse of those downtown riders…who look like th pics on this website…
http://www.martachronicles.com/

Artie

February 5th, 2010
2:21 pm

Just waiting to see how MARTA ends up screwing the pooch on this concept!!!! Just a matter of time, as we all have come to know with MARTA.

Eric

February 5th, 2010
2:21 pm

I definitely do NOT mind paying more to ride from Dunwoody to the airport, as long as our car is unavailable to the “Five Points” to “Oakland City” consumers who are paying less…

Ryan

February 5th, 2010
2:21 pm

Art – you want to penalize people for living somewhere other than where they work? How does that make sense? Don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in paying for what you use, but the last time I checked we can still liver wherever we want to and work where we desire without a “governmental” penalty. The choices we make have consequences and if we are willing to accept them in longer commutes to live where we want then by all means live in Dunwoody. MARTA is mismanaged, there are no working escalators! Just like the airport is mismanaged – the world’s busiest airport and again escalators that don’t work! If these visible events are not working what else is not working that we can not see?

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 5th, 2010
2:23 pm

Art Vandalay:
I understand that MARTA doesn’t receive state funding hasn’t done so for 40 years, but that’s still no excuse for the blatant mis-allocation of funds (and common sense) that has been pervasive throughout that agency for many years, not that they’re only local or state agency that has been incompetently and recklessly mismanaged. One need only to look no further than Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Statehouse or most notably, the Georgia Department of Transportation Headquarters for countless other examples of that type of rampant “mismanagement”, which is more than pretty obvious about now.

TN Stone

February 5th, 2010
2:24 pm

Sounds reasonable to me. If you ride farther, pay more. Why does this sound so unbelievable?

WayToGoOxy

February 5th, 2010
2:26 pm

The citizens of georgia should not subsidize MARTA. If the riders want MARTA, then they ought to pay for the cost of MARTA. What is wrong with that?

Bacchus

February 5th, 2010
2:27 pm

Makes perfect sense. The infrastructure is already in place to collect fares based on time and distance. You will only enter the system when you are going somewhere and exit as soon as you arrive. It works in London and it would work here.

Plus it would keep the bums from riding around all night and peeing in stations & trains. That alone would increase ridership…

Artie

February 5th, 2010
2:27 pm

Still trying to figure out why MARTA decided to “color-code” the rail lines!!!! All it did was cost MARTA more $$$ from having to relabel everything, including the maps in the cars!!!! Brilliant!!!!

TN Stone

February 5th, 2010
2:28 pm

Also, wouldnt this potentially eliminate some of the sketchy riders that just get on and stay on the train? Unless they are able to ride all day and then get off at the stop they said where going to originally.

DailyMartaRider

February 5th, 2010
2:30 pm

I ride Marta every day from Dunwoody into Peachtree Center. I already have to go out of my way just to get to a Marta station because Marta really doesn’t take you anywhere you’d like to go except the hood. A station that has broken escalators and smells like pee and the “Next Train Arriving” signs never work or are completely inaccurate. One positive of this system would be to keep the smelly bums from sleeping on the train for the entire length of the red line. Also I find it a complete waste of Marta money just to have employees watch the escalators. What are they suppose to do if someone falls?? the safety stops have been disabled. Manage your money, keep the trains/stations clean, and trains on time Marta because ridership has never been higher since the gas prices went up. Take a note from the European trains.

Big E

February 5th, 2010
2:30 pm

MARTA needs to worry about staying within their budget and not building nice buildings and paying for it’s own police force (and cars? especially). Having a variable pay system will only make their budget even less predictable and not bring any more money. MARTA is top heavy and has been since it’s existance.

janet

February 5th, 2010
2:31 pm

Way to Go Oxy- The Citizens of Metro Atlanta should not pay for the roads in Georgia that we never use….same false logic you are using for MARTA.
Why do riders who use GRTA receive a subsidy from the State for a commute to Cumming etc? They connect onto huge motor coaches not city busses for their journeys. They pay nothing for MARTA in a sales tax.

sonia savager

February 5th, 2010
2:34 pm

One Question – Do they have this system now in New York? Their subway system has existed for years under a flat rate. As a daily rider, I would not pay more to go downtown not when I have to clean my own seat off and check for roaches crawling around on a daily basis. I’ll drive my 18 year old Honda to work. It’s reliable!! MARTA is not.

Darin

February 5th, 2010
2:35 pm

If this allows some more money to flow to MARTA, then go for it. The state of GA has been happily taking tax money from Atlanta businesses and benefiting from our strong economy but not providing any funding in return to MARTA. This is atypical and unfair. MARTA has to do what it needs to do to survive in the face of the knee-jerk, anti-transit stance taken by so many in GA. Also: claims that MARTA is mismanaged are unfounded. They’re merely a convenience excuse for the state’s neglect of this important resource.

Artie

February 5th, 2010
2:39 pm

Just a couple of examples of mismanagement: (1) Recent color-coding of the rail system and (2) installing all of those expensive self-cleaning automatic toilets only to pull them back out…remember???

Bacchus

February 5th, 2010
2:39 pm

Another note on escalators- why doesn’t MARTA install weight-triggered escalators instead of letting them run all day and night. Save on maint. costs and electricity costs.

It would just make too much sense for the government to do that, I guess.

Artie

February 5th, 2010
2:40 pm

If I remember correctly, each of the toilets cost about $300,000, not including the maintenance costs, which, of course, MARTA failed to take into account.

Artie

February 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

The MARTA rail system is not complicated enough to warrant color-coding!!!!

noneya

February 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

I suggest that MARTA save money by removing all the bus routes in North Fulton. Only keep the train stations so we can get to the airport if we have to.

ugaaccountant

February 5th, 2010
2:44 pm

So the solutions to every single form of transportation is to charge more? They want to create toll roads or lanes on existing roads, raise our sales taxes to fund transportation, add or raise parking fees, and raise marta fees. Is the idea to make it so that nobody can afford to work because they simply can’t get there?

And to thinking this will make your individual cost of Marta less than it is today, I highly doubt it. Maybe if you’re using it for 1 stop, but how many people really do that?

ugaaccountant

February 5th, 2010
2:46 pm

Self cleaning toilets in a place as abused as a transit station? Let’s put someone to work cleaning toilets instead. Cheaper in the long run, especially once that individual pays their taxes on their wages.

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

February 5th, 2010
2:47 pm

DailyMartaRider: MARTA wasn’t designed for “high ridership”, MARTA was designed as a low-cost transportation handout for lower class blue collar workers, the poorest of the poor and the mentally ill to get from one part of the inner city to the other. The system wasn’t really truly designed with middle and upper class white-collar employees in mind and has operated as such since its inception. The decisive acronym used for MARTA, (M)oving (A)fricans (R)apidly (T)hrough
(A)tlanta pretty much has always described and still describes what the system was intended to do. MARTA wasn’t designed to ever really appeal to the entire community or all races of people, a continuing inherent flaw which is even more apparent today as people across all races and classes have started to demand more transportation options of a higher quality for a community that is no longer as provincial as it was when MARTA started operating back in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

whatnot

February 5th, 2010
2:51 pm

Quit buying MARTA police cars. MARTA police should take MARTA. It oughtta be MATA because there aint nothing Rapid about it. Have to wait 30 min for the train to show up. POS subway system.

Sally

February 5th, 2010
2:52 pm

People who live in Dunwoody pay more to drive downtown. It makes sense that they should also pay more for a train that takes them that far.

People who want transit to be self-sustaining financially should apply the same standards to roads. While state highways and interstates are funded with gas taxes, the same is not true of local roads and traffic signals. About ten years ago, a study of transportation costs in the City of Atlanta showed that maintaining roads, traffic signals, and dealing with traffic violations and wrecks accounted for 10 percent of the City’s general funds. General funds come from property taxes, which means roads are heavily subsidized. Why do so many of the people who want MARTA to pay for itself find it acceptable to expect taxpayers to subsidize roads? Makes as much sense as the tea party folks who ask government to keep its hands of medicare.

Lee

February 5th, 2010
2:54 pm

Anyone else besides me remember when they appointed a welfare queen to the Marta board? …. and you have the gall to sit there and tell me this system is not mismanaged? ROFLMAO

Marta may be smarta, but you’ll smell funny when you get there.

Mark

February 5th, 2010
2:55 pm

Marta sucks, the only reason I have stayed living in Atlanta for 10-years is because I work for Delta and live downtown and don’t need a car. I f have to pay more than 2.00 for a one way fare I will move out of this backwards state. What a joke, most other cites with rail or lightrail charge less.
Marta needs to get state funding. Our gov is destroying this state!
Next they’ll be proposing a charge for baggage> this makes me sick, it’s never ending.It’s also embarrasing to listen to the plaes announced in the stations about wanting people to meet at the Headquarters in order to talk about ways to overcome their financial challanges. the escalators don’t function, what an impression for people that visit this city.

Neil

February 5th, 2010
2:55 pm

London does this with the Underground. You can travel by zones and pay more depending on which zone you travel to. MARTA should be thinking about ways to get more people to ride, not alienate potential riders with confusing fares.

nonenone

February 5th, 2010
2:55 pm

I refuse to ride MARTA. Before the Breeze cards, a MARTA police officer watched a man try to get a token from the two broken machines, the only ones at the station. When another private citizen tried to help the man, the other man was arrested and detained for a few hours. MARTA management responded that the officer acted appropriately. MARTA does not want to help you, and they don’t want anyone else to help you either.