For those who don’t live in Atlanta, MARTA is the public transportation agency in Atlanta that runs the light rail and the buses in Dekalb and Fulton counties. MARTA is suffering from a budget shortfall of about $20 Million dollars this year. To help cover this, they had requested the state legislature change the rules regarding what MARTA could do with the proceeds from a local option sales tax. As it currently stands, they have to put back half of that money for capital improvements and it cannot be used for operating expenses.
The State Legislature, however, closed the current session without moving on this. This means MARTA was talking about cutting service, including closing down completely one day a week (with the threat being Friday to cause the biggest disruption). The head of MARTA requested the Governor call for a special session to address this, but it fell on deaf ears.
Enter the Atlanta Regional Commission. The ARC has access to stimulus funds and has offered $25 Million to MARTA to cover their budget short fall. For those of you doing the math at home, this puts them at a net amount of $5 Million beyond their shortfall. So this should mean all should be well, right?
So the question comes up why MARTA is still saying they may need to furlough workers and stop service at Midnight. One would think if you are being given the money to more than cover your budget shortfall, then you shouldn’t need to take those steps.
One person on an LJ community for Atlanta made the statement it’s apparently tied to bonuses, trying to tie this to an AIG scenario. Leaving off for a minute the complete lack of understanding of the AIG situation that comment entails, you do have to wonder why getting enough money to cover the budget shortfall results in still needing to lay off workers and cut service.
MARTA is already an embarrassment of a public transportation system for a major city. Compared to DC, Chicago, or Boston, our system is just laughable. It’s becoming more and more obvious now that part of the problem is the management and their fiscal skills (or lack thereof). Sure, there are other issues involved, but this one is just getting hi-lited at the moment.