MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffery Parker. Image via MARTA.
At the 6th annual State of MARTA Breakfast, the transit authority’s General Manager and CEO Jeffery Parker shared a bold vision for the future of public transportation in the metro area.
At the meeting, Parker declared the MARTA is financially stable and prime for expansion, according to program materials. He renewed the transit authority’s commitment to customer service and expansion as a catalyst for economic and community. However, to keep Atlanta thriving, Parker said more investment must be made in its transit system.
“The greater Atlanta region is projected to grow in population by 50 percent over the next 30 years. That’s essentially adding Denver’s current population to the metro region,” Parker said at the meeting. “We have to make bold decisions now that include a landmark investment in our transit network to fund innovative solutions for our traffic woes and renew our commitment to future generations.”
He urged the crowd of community, business and civic leaders to support a $100 billion investment in transit and related technology over the next 40 years, informed by similar plans in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C., according to program materials. He said Atlanta needs a “moonshot for transit” to keep the region ahead of the curve.
Specifically, Parker announced several priority initiatives for MARTA, including:
- Establishing a Rider Advisory Council to provide customers with a formal voice to make improvements to the transit system.
- Hiring a Chief Customer Experience Officer to represent customers internally.
- Launching a multi-year initiative to renovate all 38 MARTA stations through a comprehensive enhancement program.
- Ensuring integrated transit-oriented development at stations that support jurisdictional priorities around economic development, housing and community engagement.
- Implementing a training strategy for frontline employees and management to improve customer service.
- Creating a station manager career track for frontline employees who deal directly with customers.
“It really takes our employees, business leaders, elected officials and our riders coming together to help make MARTA stronger,” Freda Hardage, MARTA’s recently appointed board chair, said in a statement. “My predecessor Robbie Ashe did a yeoman’s job leading MARTA’s Board of Directors while working closely with all of our stakeholders and leadership across the state to advance regional mobility and accessibility. Today, we renewed our commitment to build upon that same dynamic zeal as we look to the next 40 years for MARTA.”