MARTA customers haven’t seen a fare increase in eight years. But that could change as soon as next year, the agency’s top official told state lawmakers Wednesday.
CEO Jeffrey Parker told a legislative panel that MARTA will consider a fare increase as it prepares its fiscal 2021 budget, which would take effect next July.
“I don’t want to say that we’re on the verge of a fare increase, because we haven’t implemented those plans,” Parker told the General Assembly’s MARTA Oversight Committee. “But eight years without a fare increase is a long time.”
The MARTA Board last raised fares in 2011, when the cost of a one-way trip rose from $2 to $2.50. Before that, it raised fares from $1.75 to $2 in 2009.
In recent years, rising sales tax revenue has helped shore up the agency’s financial position. At Wednesday’s meeting, Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, noted that state law requires fare revenue to cover about 35 percent of MARTA’s operating expenses. He asked if the agency is meeting that goal.
Parker said fare revenue is “in the low 30s” as a share of operating expenses. That’s when he broached the possibility of a fare increase.
“As we look toward the 2021 budget, it’s something we need to start thinking seriously about,” he said.
After the meeting, Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that any increase would be subject to a lengthy process that involved public hearings and an analysis of how it would affect customers. And he stressed a fare hike is no sure thing.
“MARTA needs to think about a fare increase every time it proposes a budget,” Parker said. “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t exploring that as part of the conversation.”
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