The Transportation Tax and MARTA

MARTA is a financial albatross that will absorb major portions of the proposed Transportation Sales Tax. We should vote it down.

We have major traffic congestion problems in metropolitan Atlanta. Unfortunately, less than 50 percent of the proposed projects funded by the TSPLOST directly addresses roads. 

More than 50 percent of the TSPLOST funding is directed to mass transit, including MARTA, which has reflected reduced ridership, high subsidy costs and annual losses since 2002. On top of this, another $600 million is added to TSPLOST for a new trolley system, which does nothing to relieve road congestion.

Let’s take a look at the facts regarding MARTA which came from their “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, year ended June 30, 2010”. (Editor's Note: See attached PDF)


TSPLOST allocates approximately $2.5 billion for MARTA Rail and Bus Systems of which approximately $1.1 billion is for current operation and maintenance, upgrading various systems, rehabilitation of infrastructure and various improvements. This is a bailout of all of their deferred maintenance.           

MARTA’s long-range plan provided for the planning, construction, financing, and operation of a rapid transit system in multiple phases, consisting of approximately 60 miles of double track and 45 stations, of which 47.6 miles and 38 stations were in service June 30, 2010. The additional 13 plus miles of track and seven stations will be financed by federal money and through sales and use tax revenues, Sales Tax Revenue Bonds and investment income. 

MARTA Ridership Between 2006 and 2010: While population served across Atlanta’s 10 counties increased 20 percent since 2002, MARTA ridership declined for rail and bus, six percent and 17 percent respectively. 

The MARTA System:  

The rail system consists of 47.6 miles of operational double track and 38 fully functioning stations. The rail transit system consists of 318 air-conditioned vehicles.

Bus system consists of 582 diesel and compressed natural gas buses and 15 small buses; a heavy maintenance facility and four operating garages; several park-and-ride lots and an extensive system of patron bus shelters and stops. MARTA operates 131 different bus routes.

User Charges for MARTA Rail and Bus Transit System:

User charges are intended to finance only a portion of the cost of providing services.

An existing 1 percent sales tax is in place until June 30, 2047 after which it will be reduced to .5 percent. Funds go to support transit.

The MARTA Act provides that up to 50 percent of the sales tax collections in a fiscal year can be used to subsidize the operating expenses of the system. Transit related revenues for the years ended June 30, 2010 and 2009 were 61 percent and 60 percent, respectively, of operating costs.

A 25-cent base fare increase and $1 parking fee hike went into effect on October 1, 2009. This was the first time MARTA had raised its fares in eight years.

MARTA’s Finances: 
The approved 2010 Budget was $787.5 million with $399 million allocated to operating expenses and $388.5 million allocated to the capital improvement program and debt service expenses.

Debt included a total of $1,647,575,000 bonds outstanding and issued under three debt indentures. They also had $225,000,000 in commercial paper. In the past, debt service was limited to 45 percent of the corresponding year’s estimated sales tax receipts but this limit was lifted.

The fiscal Shortfall at the outset of the FY 2010-12 a total multi-year (2009-2012) financial shortfall of $441.5 million was forecasted in the 2010 Report. The previous two years losses were between $500-$510 million each year

Do we really want more of this?

Georgia, we can do better than this.

(Editor's Note: .)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bob B May 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Yes, wash your car and support a local business that has to operate in the black. And is based upon meeting your needs and being responsive to you. Not being supported by the unproductive expensive confiscatory government.
janet h russell May 19, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Mr. Burrows, I meant YOU wash your own car not have someone do it for you. That is taking personal responsibility for your car washing...not delegating it to someone else.
Bob B May 20, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Washing your car at a local business supports the local economy and provides jobs. Supporting our local businesses is taking responsibility for myself and my property. This great country is based upon a fair market approach where the opportunity is there to provide a service that someone that works for a living can then use. Washing your own car is up to each of us. You are free to choose. This not true with the T-bloat. This is a case where others get to choose how your money is spent after they force some of it away from you. I believe in governments handling transportation issues in a way that benefits the largest amount of taxpayers. T-bloat is not. It is flawed in too many ways.
Dean Sheridan May 21, 2012 at 04:26 PM
@janet h russell :You may have had the privileged to be a world traveler; most are not. The Elders of the European movement here as Citizens would tell you ( I personally know this because of my linage) that not only is the total dynamic such as the population density indifferent but if we continue down this path of taxation & Social Engineering as it were they would have stayed in their Country. Your either not listening to those who write about common sense solutions or you don't want to here them. The idea that some how in very Rural area like lets say Cherokee County a Project like this Billion dollar Albatross is plausible solution to traffic congestion,so be it - is preposterous. Anyone in could conscience cannot either. The advocates of the project list stopped selling it that way months ago and admit it. I suggest you go to the debate at the Bluffs tomorrow night; listen & learn and be part of the solution not a agenda driven ideologue. I'm all ears on this one. To date I have heard very little that offers real solutions for the kind of money we are asking the tax payer to dole up here forever - yes and it is forever like forever and then some. It's flat out wrong and deceptive.
B in Jasper May 26, 2012 at 05:30 AM
One option I havent heard anyone speak about but seems perfect for Atlanta wouldnt require anymore government envolvement. Or money given to government. It might potientially change the traditional work week a little, but the trade off would be well worth it if what used to take you two hours now only takes thirty to forty- five minutes. Cooperation of sorts between companies to stage work weeks or work time. Example, Three long days to satisfy work hours. Of course this would take some getting used to, but to every disadvantage there are advantages also. The companies would have more workers trained evenually to fill the gaps from various traffic zones. The home stresses and burn out factor would drastically go down. I didnt suppose it was an easy idea, but Im tired of traffic and tired of wasted money to people who lie for a living. I used to hear stories about an America that didnt wait for Uncle Sam to come in and change the diaper. I wish that was the one somebody was handing me instead of this smelly load.


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