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Friday, August 7, 2009

MARTA service cuts start Aug. 15

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MARTA will make cuts to bus and train service on August 15, a move transit officials say is necessary to pull the metro Atlanta's largest people mover out of a budget shortfall.

Transit officials call next Saturday's cuts some of the most severe in MARTA's 43-year history. Bus routes 23 and 182 will be totally eliminated. More than 40 other routes will adjusted. If you feel like it takes forever for a train to arrive, well, you're gonna have to wait a little longer. Oh, and starting Oct. 1, fares and parking fees will increase 25 cents and $1, respectively.

Why were the cuts needed? After the jump, the answer to that question, a full list of bus route modifications, and details about longer wait times between trains.

MARTA's main source of funding is a one-cent sales tax in Fulton and DeKalb County. Because the economy is terrible, people haven't been buying enough tchotchkes to keep the revenue a-flowin'. The transit agency does have cash in reserves, but by state law, it can't tap those funds to keep trains and buses running. Hence the need for cuts. State lawmakers, who don't contribute a penny to MARTA's operating costs, had a chance to change those funding restrictions earlier this year. They failed. The Atlanta Regional Commission stepped up and threw MARTA a one-time lifeline made of unicorn-kissed Obamabucks to avoid cutting bus and train service to six days a week.

"Unless the President and Congress decide differently, we will not have [stimulus] funds available to us in the future," MARTA General Manager and CEO Bev Scott said in a statement. "This is not just a MARTA issue. This is an issue that affects the state and the entire Atlanta region. We need everyone to make an urgent call for state, regional and local leadership to focus on this critical issue or MARTA, as we know it, will not survive.”

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(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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