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With ridership declining due to COVID-19, MARTA reduces services and asks for federal help

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With ridership declining due to COVID-19, MARTA reduces services and asks for federal help

A MARTA train passes over the mural at the corner of Dekalb Ave. and Arizona Ave. on Thursday, April 17, 2014. File Photo by Jonathan Phillips
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Atlanta, GA – MARTA will cut back its services in response to a drop in ridership because of COVID-19.

MARTA also joining other transit agencies in making an appeal for federal funds to keep it going during the pandemic.

Operational changes begin Thursday, March 26 and there will be service plan changes to bus and rail service beginning March 30.

Here are the changes MARTA plans to implement in the days ahead:

Beginning tomorrow [March 26], bus customers will enter and exit using the rear doors only, except for customers who require the accessibility ramp. Also, because our Breeze farebox is located at the front door, MARTA is suspending fare collection on buses. For customers transferring to and from the rail system, fares will be paid at the rail stations. MARTA is closing public restrooms at low-utilization rail stations beginning tomorrow. Public restrooms will remain open at College Park, Doraville, Five Points, H.E. Holmes, Indian Creek, Lindbergh, and North Springs rail stations.

Beginning Monday, March 30, MARTA will reduce bus service by approximately 30 percent. All bus routes will continue to operate, but with fewer buses on each route. The exception is on routes with the heaviest ridership; 15, 39, 5, 121, 196, 73, 110, 78, 83, and 89, which will have buses added to help with social distancing. This adjusted plan most closely mirrors MARTA’s inclement weather plan and prioritizes service along major arterial routes and to medical facilities. The plan also allows for weekday level bus service to essential businesses.

Rail service will operate on a weekend schedule beginning Monday, March 30, except for start time which will remain the regular weekday start time to complement bus service. Also, all Red and Gold Line trains will go to the airport, and Green Line trains will turn back at King Memorial. Due to extremely low ridership, MARTA is closing Mercedes-Benz/State Farm Arena/GWCC rail station. Trains will not stop at this rail station beginning Monday. MARTA will perform deep cleaning, repair work, painting, and other small projects at the rail station during this temporary closure. Additionally, the streetcar will operate on a Sunday schedule beginning Monday, March 30.

Updated bus and rail service information will be available on www.itsmarta.com, MARTA’s On The Go app, @MARTASERVICE on Twitter, @MARTAtransit on Facebook, digital boards throughout the system, and communicated through announcements on buses, trains, and at rail stations. Call our Customer Care Center at 404-848-5000 if you have any concerns.

MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker also cosigned a letter to Congress asking for federal funds to help sustain public transportation during the pandemic.

“We are coming together to urgently request that the federal relief package includes at least $25 billion of dedicated support for public transportation agencies,” the letter says. “Federal aid, utilizing federal formulas, must be directed to areas of the country that have had significant financial impacts and where essential workers rely most heavily on public transit.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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