MARTA CEO Keith Parker
MARTA CEO Keith Parker

By Dan Whisenhunt

There are things about MARTA that need fixing in order to convince voters to support expanding the service, according to new CEO Keith Parker.

Parker stopped by the Buckhead Business Association’s weekly breakfast meeting this morning, Aug. 22, to discuss the issues. He said cuts to MARTA’s funding have taken their toll, describing the bus service as “skeletal.” Many services, like public restrooms, are no longer available to riders.

He said a campaign to change perceptions about MARTA will be key to the future of the public transit service.

“On the security side, nothing stops customers from riding more than feeling unsafe,” he said.

He added that MARTA is one of the safer systems in the country, statistically speaking. Even so, he said there will be new measures like video cameras on all buses and better policing of obnoxious behavior, like playing music over a stereo while riding on a MARTA train or bus. MARTA police will also be more visible, he said.

Parker said that unless MARTA expands, it will become hard to increase ridership and bring in more revenue for the service.

“Our footprint is too small,” he said. “We need to be in Cobb county. Many of the folks who ride our system are moving well beyond our service area.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.