There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Monday, September 10, 2007

Between Sacramento to Atlanta

And so I was reading the news that the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority made the long-expected decision official:

After a year-long national search, MARTA's board of directors on Sept. 10 named Beverly Scott, general manager of the Sacramento Regional Transit District, as MARTA's new GM.
I went to the MARTA Web site looking for some more information. There wasn't anything on Scott's hiring. But I was fascinated by this:

Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
MARTA REPORTS BUDGET SURPLUS FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

MARTA announced today that the Authority has achieved an operating budget surplus for the second year in a row – recording $12.1 million in additional revenues for FY07. This marks only the second time in 20 years that MARTA has recorded an operating budget surplus for two consecutive fiscal years. MARTA also ended FY07 with $117.4 million in capital reserves. The capital program funds additions and improvements to infrastructure and supports the Authority’s bonding capacity.


“Thanks to a strict fiscal management plan, strategic cost containment measures and improved financial performance in recent years, MARTA has achieved this significant accomplishment,” said MARTA General Manager Richard McCrillis. “We will continue to reinvest surplus revenues into system improvements and sustaining our strong financial outlook for the future.”


As a result of its financial success, MARTA has focused on reinvesting funds into enhancing the quality of service for customers and sustaining upgrades and maintenance to the system. MARTA has increased bus service, added security, cleaning and customer service personnel, and invested in capital improvements such as the Breeze fare collection system and rail car rehabilitation program. These service improvement efforts have contributed to a 4.3% increase in passenger revenue over the last year – helping the Authority to maintain its financial stability.
Budget surplus? Increased bus service? Additional security? Capital improvements? Can we hire the guy who is leaving Atlanta to replace Scott? Please?

9 comments:

Eric in SF said...

You realize the guy in Atlanta you're wondering about is the current head of the SFMTA - Nathaniel Ford?

Eric in SF said...

You realize the guy in Atlanta you're wondering about is the current head of the SFMTA - Nathaniel Ford?

Queen of Dysfunction said...

No kidding!

John said...

I realize that Sacramento is a backwater transit stop, a wannabe big city without the population concentration to make a real transit system work. Fine. But you have to wonder what it would be like to have local transit management -- from the board to the director -- that was optimistic rather than defensive, whether it might translate into community enthusiasm.

wburg said...

Actually, Sacramento is about the same size as Atlanta (they're around 480,000 and 130 square miles, we're around 420,000 and 100 square miles) although they have a larger metropolitan area (5 million vs. our 2-3 million--in other words, they have more sprawl.) So they have no great advantage in terms of population concentration.

So, yeah, the difference may well be attitude--as well as regional attitudes about public transit. The Southeast may just be more comfortable taking the bus, whereas California is still stuck on car culture...it will take some time and cheerleading to get people enthusiastic about public transit. I'm working on that project--gimme some time!!

John said...

wburg,

You again correctly correct my incorrect assumptions. I should either stick to fiction or give up trying to scrape facts off the top of my head (which is probably what happened to my hair).

The history of buses and boycotts in the South does give the region a cultural perspective about transit far removed from California's car culture. And, sigh, that's still another reason why it is such a struggle to push the idea of leaving personal cars at home in Sacramento and taking transit.

Sure, we don't have the kind of transit blanket that covers San Francisco, but the commute service is reasonable if you want to get downtown. It is certainly possible for a couple who both work to have just one car, relying on transit for their commute and using the car for those weekend errands.

wburg said...

John, you haven't seen the top of my head, but if rattling facts off the top of one's head results in premature baldness it certainly explains why I haven't had to go to a barber since 1996.

And I hope that you don't think I started commenting on your weblog solely to show off my mighty power over obscure trivia. Actually you have inspired me to further transit use: having just started at Sacramento State, I gained the boon of free use of Regional Transit's transit. Considering that a semester parking pass at CSUS costs $108, or $5 per day if I buy a daily pass, and I'd get just as wet walking to class from the parking lot or the bus stop in the rain, I have decided to take the bus or train to school instead of my car. I already notice I arrive at school in a better mood and typically a little better read.

Work is a different story, sort of. My work and my house are both about a block from light rail stations, but part of my job includes transporting people so the car is often required. I'm starting a policy of leaving the car at home whenever I can (on days when I don't expect to transport anyone) and if a transport need comes up it only takes me a few minutes to ride home on the light rail and go get it. I grew up riding the bus (and light rail after 1987) and didn't have a license until I was nearly 26 so in a way this is a return to my old ways of getting around.

So, hopefully you won't mind my mister-smartypants act occasionally, because you have helped inspire me to leave my car at home more often.

John said...

wburg . . .

Thank you, thank you, thank you. First one person. Then two people. And pretty soon you have enough to play bridge. Do you suppose RT would allow riders to set up a card table in the back of the old buses with the benches?

You are welcome to correct all and every factual error you find, no matter how trivial.

Anonymous said...

What a difference a year makes:

MARTA’s top administrator on Monday warned of steep fare hikes and drastic cuts in passenger services if the transit agency cannot find more revenue sources to make up for a projected $60 million revenue shortfall.

“We are talking about a draconian —- unbelievably draconian —- reduction in service,” said MARTA general manager Beverly Scott. “There is not enough stuff that one can touch where you can, in fact, wind up making up those kinds of sharp decreases.”

By Ben Smith
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Tuesday, December 16, 2008