At the same time, expenses are rising for personal protective equipment, sick leave and enhanced cleaning of vehicles and facilities. The agency will set aside $20 million in a contingency fund to pay for COVID-related expenses next year.
Earlier this week the agency said it faces a $380 million budget deficit over the next five years.
Recently approved federal aid for transit agencies will help. Georgia agencies will receive $522 million of that money, with MARTA getting $298.6 million. The agency expects to use $83 million of that money to balance this year's budget, $150 million next year and $65.6 million in 2022.
After that, projected deficits rise rapidly. That’s because MARTA officials expect the economic recovery to be slow, like the recovery from the Great Recession a decade ago.
Agency officials say they're taking numerous steps to cut expenses. Among other things, they will eliminate vacant positions, reduce overtime and consolidate management positions. More than 1,600 non-unionized workers will not receive a raise next year, though some 2,900 union workers will get a 3% raise negotiated last year.
MARTA also hopes to raise revenue. Among other things, it will study the feasibility of a fare increase. MARTA last raised fares in 2011, when the cost of a one-way trip rose from $2 to $2.50.
Parker said MARTA's capital spending will not be affected next year. It plans to spend $599 million on projects such as station improvements, track renovation and new rail cars.
It's unclear how the capital program — including expansions in Atlanta and Clayton County — will be affected in future years.
MARTA will hold public hearings on the proposed budget Monday and Tuesday. The board is expected to approve a final budget in June.
MARTA will hold virtual hearings on its proposed 2021 budget:
- 11 a.m. Monday. Vist www.itsmarta.com for the virtual hearing or call 404-418-9388 and enter access code 714 167 610.
- 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Visit www.itsmarta.com for the virtual hearing or call 408-418-9388 and enter access code 712 987 006.
Public comment will be accepted through May 22 via voice message at 404-848-5299, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the MARTA Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, 30324-3330.