MARTA CEO unveils plans to improve customer service

CEO Jeffrey Parker says better service will lure more riders to MARTA service.

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CEO Jeffrey Parker says better service will lure more riders to MARTA service.

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday, MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker called for a $100 billion "moonshot for transit" in the region at the agency's annual "State of MARTA" breakfast.

If it comes to pass, it would be a dramatic increase in the amount of money currently envisioned for transit expansion in metro Atlanta. But whether it comes to pass or not, a series of other initiatives Parker unveiled Friday likely will make a bigger difference in the lives of commuters in the near term.

Parker, who’s been on the job for less than a year, unveiled several steps he’ll take to improve customer service at the transit agency. Among them:

*MARTA will establish a Rider Advisory Council to provide customers with a formal voice in the agency.

*The agency will hire a “chief customer experience officer” to ensure such concerns get more attention.

*MARTA will launch a comprehensive training for employees to improve customer service.

*The agency will create a “station manager” career track for employees who deal directly with customers.

“We have to review and redesign this entire customer service experience across the board to earn their confidence every day,” Parker told more than 500 business and political leaders at Friday’s breakfast. “Bad traffic won’t disappear overnight, but great customer service will drive ridership.”

Ridership has been declining at MARTA and at transit agencies across the country in recent years - a phenomenon fueled by the rise of telecommuting, ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, cheap gas and other factors.

In addition to those initiatives, Parker announced plans to renovate all 38 MARTA rail stations. And he pledged to support development around transit stations south of I-20.

You can read more about Parker's plans for a $100 billion investment in transit here.