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140 MARTA paratransit workers lose jobs amid pandemic

Declining ridership has led a MARTA contractor to furlough 140 paratransit workers. (JOEY IVANSCO/ AJC staff)
Declining ridership has led a MARTA contractor to furlough 140 paratransit workers. (JOEY IVANSCO/ AJC staff)

Credit: Joey Ivansco

Credit: Joey Ivansco

A MARTA contractor has furloughed 140 paratransit workers as the coronavirus outbreak takes a toll on transit ridership.

“Due to a significant lack of ridership demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become necessary for MARTA’s paratransit provider, MV Transportation, to scale back operations, resulting in the difficult decision to temporarily furlough 140 employees,” MARTA said Thursday in a statement to The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“MV Transportation has retained employees to continue providing paratransit services to those customers who need it,” the agency said. “Mobility customers may request service through their usual channels.”

The furloughs are the latest measure of the impact the pandemic has had on public transportation across metro Atlanta. This week Xpress bus, Cobb County and Gwinnett County scaled back commuter bus service from the suburbs to major employment centers around Atlanta. And beginning Monday MARTA will reduce its rail and bus service.

MARTA’s paratransit service for the elderly and disabled provides about 2,400 trips on a typical Tuesday, the agency said. On Tuesday of this week it provided about 900 trips.

MARTA and transit agencies across the country are seeking $25 billion in federal aid to help keep their services afloat during the pandemic. The aid is included in an economic stimulus package that cleared the U.S. Senate Wednesday.

“The commitment of MARTA’s frontline employees to provide an essential service during these uncertain times cannot be overstated,” the agency said. “However, the unprecedented decisions made by government and health officials in response to the coronavirus, and the resulting impact on ridership and revenue, made these staffing adjustments necessary.”

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