MARTA set to restore all bus routes by mid-April

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

MARTA is restoring bus service along all of its 110 bus routes a year after those services were eliminated due to declining ridership and revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency plans to have the routes restored by April 24, according to MARTA CEO and general manager Jeffrey Parker.

Parker told the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee on Wednesday that the agency will notify the public about the schedules beginning in April.

“We’ve done a lot of work to make sure that our operation is safe and sustainable,” Parker said.

MARTA restricted service to 40 of its most critical routes last April because ridership declined 40% during the pandemic. The agency also recorded a $50 million deficit in its budget due to nosedives in farebox and sales tax revenue.

Parker also stressed last April that the cuts ensured MARTA could practice social distancing on routes for hospitals, urgent care centers, grocery stores and job centers across Atlanta as well as Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties.

By last October, the agency restored a few more routes, but MARTA’s actions still elicited protests from residents who argued the cuts hurt minority and low-income residents dependent on public transportation.

Parker told the council committee on Wednesday that MARTA has installed air filters, protective shields for operators and regular cleaning systems on buses to ensure the routes are safe once services are fully restored. He also said masks are available on all buses in service.

AJC reporter David Wickert contributed to this story.