Through February, ridership increased 2.3 percent at the North Springs station, 3.9 percent at the Sandy Springs station, 7.3 percent at the Dunwoody station and 1.2 percent at the Medical Center station compared to a year prior, Parker said.
Since he became the head of Atlanta’s public transit system in December 2012, Parker has implemented several improvements to increase the customer service experience for MARTA riders.
Security cameras have been installed in buses and trains to increase safety. Aged buses are being replaced with brand new vehicles. Station elevators are being updated with state-of-the-art equipment that can detect if someone urinates in the elevator and sends authorities to apprehend the offender. A Ride with Respect campaign was initiated to cut down on nuisance behavior such as panhandling, skipping fares, loud music and horseplay.
“I was on MARTA a couple of weeks ago going down to the airport, and I saw the results of the Ride with Respect program,” said Jim Kelley, chairman of the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce board. “I was very impressed with that. [The ride] was very nice [and] very pleasant. Everybody was very well behaved.”
Wrapping up the first year of a five-year MARTA transformation initiative, Parker and the system’s leadership continue to look for ways to increase revenue, cut costs and better the system’s financial outlook.
“We’re looking at about 10 to 15 transit stations over the next few years that we want to really make a concerted effort to create a public-private partnership to generate revenue, improve our customer experience and improve those neighborhoods,” he said.
An example Parker mentioned was partnering with State Farm to help ensure the Dunwoody station will meet needs for employees at the company’s new Dunwoody campus.
He said though funding remains MARTA’s biggest challenge, the system has been experiencing financial improvements since he has come on board.
“That $33 million deficit [for 2013] that we were anticipating in December 2012, we were able to turn that around to a $9 million surplus for fiscal year ’13,” Parker said.
He said an $18 million deficit projected for fiscal 2014 will likely end up a surplus between $17 million and $18 million.
On the Web: For more information about MARTA, visit www.itsmarta.com.