Fare is fair – MARTA sets new rulesFILE PHOTO: A MARTA bus at the Decatur, GA MARTA station. File Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt
MARTA is putting the smack down on people who try to use public transit without paying for the ride.
The transit agency has announced a new policy that goes into effect on Saturday, May 17. Under the new policy, “MARTA customers will no longer be allowed to board unattended buses at rail station bus bays.”
“Bus customers will still be allowed to pay their fares and board at rail station bus bays while the operator is present,” MARTA’s press release says. “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 operator returns in order for them to do so.”
MARTA’s press release notes that, “Most other major transit systems do not allow customers to board the bus if the driver is not present, including local bus systems that feed into MARTA.”
MARTA says the new policy is a part of its Ride With Respect campaign, an initiative intended to purge problem riders from the service and make it more attractive to the general public.
The transit agency said fare evaders cost the transit agency an estimated $3.5 million per year.
“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,” the press release says.
That’s not the only announcement the agency made this week. Starting Saturday May 17, there will be additional opportunities to catch a bus.
“This improvement will amount to an additional 23 trips each weekday, 99 trips on Saturday and 55 trips on Sunday,” the press release from MARTA says. “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.”
MARTA sent a reminder to passengers that there would be a shorter wait time for a train starting Monday, May 19, “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.”
According to MARTA:
“During weekday peak hours (approximately 6 am – 9 am and 3 pm – 7 pm) 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 am to 3 pm, trains will run every 12 minutes on each of the lines with a frequency of six minutes on the trunk.”
The trade off is that wait times will be longer on the weekend while the transit agency completes track work. Trains will operate every 20 to 24 minutes, MARTA says.
The agency also recently announced that there will be no fare increases in this year’s budget.