These new mandates will affect all MARTA riders starting Oct. 1. If a rider violates any of the new mandates, they can be suspended from riding MARTA from seven days to a year.
“In response to concerns from our customers,” chief spokesman and media relations officer Lyle V. Harris said, in a statement. “MARTA will be setting strict standards to ensure that everyone has a safe, pleasant and respectable experience when riding with us. This new policy identifies unacceptable conduct and activities that are prohibited while on MARTA property.”
A few of the new mandates are: riders cannot have animals unless it is a service animal, no commercial activity or solicitation, no loud noise from mobile phones or iPods and no weapons such as knives larger than five inches and guns without a permit. Large strollers and carts that cannot break down will also be prohibited. If a rider receives a suspension, they will have the opportunity to go before a panel to appeal.
MARTA will present this new policy to its board of directors in September and if approved, he or she will launch an education campaign to inform riders before the implementation in October.
The design of the new mandates is to help improve customer service across the board and help with fiscal relief by reducing 150 executive positions. With improved customer services, the desire for MARTA is to develop the areas around 10 rail stations, which would include one in Avondale.
“We are working with community groups, schools and the general public to help us make this effort to improve MARTA successful,” Harris said in a statement.
In July, MARTA General Manager Keith Parker met with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners about the new mandates. He said this is part of a strategy for customer relief and to regain thousands of lost riders since the increase in one-way fares to $2.00 in 2009.
Parker said fares will continue to increase about every two years but MARTA is working to avoid a 25–cent increase by the end of the year.
Parker said MARTA will also provide employee relief. This will start with bonuses at Christmas this year and a 3 percent merit increase in 2015. With the increases, he said they hope to give people a good feeling about working at MARTA.
To learn more or express concern, call (404) 848-5299 and leave a message.
-Noreen Cochran contributed to this article.