MARTA is implementing two changes in the coming days – one that will help riders and the other that will enforce new rules to prevent those trying to ride for free.

In response to customer demand, MARTA said beginning May 19 there will be more frequent bus and train service. The rail changes will begin on the Red and Gold lines from the Airport to Lindbergh Center stations and on the Blue and Green lines from Ashby to Candler Park stations.

During weekday peak hours (approximately 6 to  9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.) customer wait times will be reduced to five minutes on the trunk (before the lines split) and 10-minute headways on the branches. As a result of the service frequencies and in effort to continue to reinvest in service improvements, MARTA will now run four-car trains on the Red and Gold lines (North and South). The number of cars on the Blue and Green lines will not change. During the weekday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., trains will run every 12 minutes on each of the lines with a frequency of six minutes on the trunk.

The agency is also increasing the frequency for bus service on approximately 17 routes including weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays. These bus changes will begin May 17. Other bus routes have schedule changes, and five of the seven routes previously diverted due to the Atlanta Streetcar construction are returning to their old routing. However, no changes will be made to routes 99 and 186 due to an increase in ridership during the construction. Visit this link for a complete list of the bus and rail service changes.

Along with the increased frequency, MARTA is trying to end fare dodging by no longer allowing customers to board unattended buses at the rail stations. The change goes into effect May 17.

Bus customers will still be allowed to pay their fares and board at rail station bus bays while the driver is present. Under the new policy, the doors will be secured whenever a bus operator leaves the vehicle for a break; customers who have already paid can remain aboard. However, customers waiting to pay their fare and board the bus must wait until the driver returns in order for them to do so.

The fare evasion policy aims to address customers’ concerns and is an extension of Ride With Respect, MARTA’s code of conduct launched last year to improve the overall transit experience. Since then, most of the suspensions that have been issued have been for fare evasion, a crime that is costing MARTA an estimated $3.5 million a year in lost revenue.

Passengers caught deliberately participating in or enabling fare evasion will be penalized to the fullest extent possible, up to and including being banned from riding MARTA.

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.