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As MARTA Cracks Down, Robotic Parking Attendants Shall Rise

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As part of a larger initiative to focus on the attractiveness of local transit, MARTA officials have announced they will be seeking proposals to turn over control of their parking lots to a third party. Viewed as a cost-saving strategy, the move will allow MARTA to worry about the mass-transit portion of their operations, leaving others to deal with the nitty-gritty of temporarily storing personal vehicles. Part of CEO Keith Parker's much-touted streamlined, customer-service approach to the system, the move comes as the legislature discusses channels of state-supported funding of the system for the first time in its 42-year history. And the changes could be significant in more ways than one.

Under the new scheme, MARTA envisions a contract that will provide for the replacement of aging parking management infrastructure while giving the system a constant revenue of at least $562,000 a year, the AJC reports. In addition to relinquishing direct control of the lots, the move will replace many human parking attendants with automated systems that will check recent Breezecard use in an attempt to crack down on misuse of lots. It seems MARTA's had trouble preventing non-users from taking up space in intown lots where parking is limited, leaving patrons SOL when they need to park. Possible additional upgrades include pay-by-smartphone technology and the ability to find open spaces with an app.

The move is proving to be controversial, even as it should probably be applauded as a way to save money and increase income. With the implementation of mechanized fare collection, it means the end of the line for 75 parking attendant employees of the agency. The privatization of lots also raises fears that MARTA might go the way of the streets of Atlanta under the iron-fist rule of Park Atlanta, with the possibility of increased fees. However, MARTA's CFO Gordon Hutchinson told the AJC that rates won't rise without public input.

Once MARTA chooses a provider, specifics will be ironed out, but the goal is to have all changes in place by the end of 2016.

· For MARTA parking lot freeloaders, the free ride is over [AJC; subscriber]
· MARTA's On the Right Track, but Can It Ever be Sexy? [Curbed Atlanta]
· Billion Dollar Bill Moves Forward. Will Transit Tag Along? [Curbed Atlanta]
· Toilets, Wifi & Schedules: Is MARTA Finally on the Right Track? [Curbed Atlanta]