In the warped world of economics and fiscal years, it's 2015 right now. And if the first three months have been any indication, things are really good in present-future-world for MARTA. Building on a general trend of increased ridership over the last 18 months, major events in the city and more frequent service are cited as bolstering use in the first quarter. One of the most impressive examples of building a user base, and proof that MARTA might actually think about things before executing them, ridership at Buckhead Station — following the opening of the new pedestrian bridge/station entrance over Ga. Highway 400 — jumped a staggering 27.3 percent. But it's not just ridership numbers that are improving; on-time performance and fare collection have also trended upwards in the last few months. Could this mean that MARTA is shedding its reputation as a white elephant — and that Atlanta, when it comes to transit, is beginning to put its ridership where its mouth is?
One factor that could be encouraging new MARTA ridership is the year-old ad campaign, Ride with Respect. While obscenely hokey, at least in some instances, the effort to clean up MARTA's image seems to have paid dividends. Also, MARTA has been working to replace its aging bus fleet with sleek new ones, driving down long-term operating costs, while improving reliability and overall attractiveness.
Busses en vogue? In Atlanta? C'mon!
In another effort to better the bus system, MARTA instituted a policy of only allowing people to board a bus when the driver is present (which kind of seems like a no-brainer). All of the good news has combined to give MARTA a profit of $9.5 million on the quarter; over $2 million of which seems to be from those who had evaded bus fares prior to the enacting of the new policy. Here's hoping the positive trends continue for MARTA when the rest of the world joins them in 2015.
· MARTA starts Fiscal Year 2015 on positive note [Saporta Report]