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As ridership plummets, MARTA weighs fare adjustments, credit options for transit users

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The coronavirus outbreak is forcing Atlantans indoors, and transit officials say slimmer services could result

A MARTA train arriving at a crowded platform at Five Points Station.
Train stations around Atlanta are rather deserted these days.

As Atlanta continues adapting to the coronavirus outbreak, the city is getting quieter by the day, meaning more than just highways and high-rise hotels are looking nearly deserted.

As of Monday, MARTA train ridership had plummeted 67 percent and bus use was down 55 percent, the transit agency reports.

“Lower ridership allows more room for social distancing,” MARTA officials noted on Twitter.

So now, according to a report by Patch, MARTA officials are considering credit options for riders. That could translate to refunds for different monthly passes, some bought through Breeze machines or employers at a reduced rate.

It wouldn’t be a solitary move among transit agencies during the pandemic; Chicago recently unveiled plans to refund riders on Chicago Transit Authority services, per a report from BlockClubChicago.

Fare adjustments could also be forthcoming, MARTA spokeswoman Stephany Fisher told Patch.

Additionally, she said, as ridership continues to dip, the agency could opt to reduce services to be in line with the dampened demand, and to minimize the amount of employees exposed to COVID-19, the disease carried by the coronavirus.

The elevated costs of cleaning supplies is also reportedly having an impact on MARTA.

For many, though, it’s crucial that MARTA services don’t stop running altogether, as the transit systems are utilized by people providing “essential business,” such as healthcare and food service.

This news of possible credit options comes on the heels of MARTA announcing it had joined other transit agencies across the country to lobby Congress to provide $16 billion in funding to help support transit systems during the public health crisis.