MARTA seeks more federal aid amid pandemic

Some of the country's largest transit agencies are seeking an additional $33 billion in federal aid amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AJC FILE PHOTO)
Some of the country's largest transit agencies are seeking an additional $33 billion in federal aid amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AJC FILE PHOTO)

MARTA and other top transit agencies across the country say they need another federal bailout to avert financial disaster amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Transit received $25 billion in federal funding in a recent bill designed to address the health and economic consequence of the pandemic. Georgia transit agencies got $522 million of that money, with MARTA getting the biggest share.

But at a press conference Tuesday, labor leaders and representatives of some of the biggest transit agencies in the country pushed for another $33 billion in federal aid. Without it, they said they will be hampered in their efforts to transport healthcare and other essential workers during the pandemic and in aiding the economic recovery that follows.

“We are critically important to the economic vitality of the regions we serve,” MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker said at the press conference, conducted via videoconference. Representatives of agencies from New York to San Francisco also participated.

With farebox and sales tax revenue plummeting, MARTA expects a $380 million deficit over the next five years. Meanwhile, expenses for masks, gloves, cleaning supplies and emergency sick leave during the pandemic have topped $1.3 million so far.

It’s unclear if or when the federal government will provide additional transit aid.

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