MARTA starts Fiscal Year 2015 on positive note
MARTA racked up a string of successes during the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2015 with notable increases in ridership and passenger revenue and encouraging declines in fare evasion and crime reports. The latest statistics reflect ongoing efforts by the transit system to become more effective, cost-efficient and customer-focused.
Ridership and revenue
The Authority experienced a steady uptick in ridership, which increased eight percent over the prior year, with early numbers showing the trend is likely to continue. The first quarter gain in ridership – which was up during 14 of the last 18 months, excluding the early 2014 winter storms – can be attributed to high-profile events and the advent of more frequent bus and rail service in May.
Also, as public perception of the system continues to improve, individuals are choosing MARTA over driving.
The recently opened Buckhead Station pedestrian bridge is also attracted a significant amount of new customers. Since the span was debuted in June, the Buckhead station has seen a whopping 27.3 percent increase in customer entries. We anticipate this upward trend will continue as the Buckhead CID and partners plan for an improved pedestrian experience along the north Peachtree corridor.
Customers will be happy to know the bus on-time performance has improved as the agency continues to replace its aging fleet with new buses. Better quality bus service is an agency priority and is the focal point of the current Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) to provide more reliable bus service to MARTA’s customers.
Closing out the first quarter, revenues were higher than budgeted expenses to the tune of $9.5 million. This was in large part due to the increase in ridership and the fares captured via the Authority’s fare evasion program to suppress freeloaders.
Another success story is MARTA’s fare evasion program, launched this summer, which requires bus Operators to be physically present when customers board. An internal task force identified external and internal opportunities to halt fare evasion and implemented a robust action plan.
This seemingly small change in operations is projected to increase revenues by $2.25 million. Equally important, surveys show customers and bus Operators overwhelmingly approve of this approach to making sure all customers pay their fair share.
In the coming months, this task force will provide recommendations to overhaul the agency’s reduced fare program to ensure all customers are paying their fair share.
Public safety and security
In another promising development, the agency’s overall crime rate is down. MARTA is committed to crime reduction and prevention to ensure this downward trend continues. With the increased transit service frequency, MARTA has added officers to patrol trains and buses. The Authority has also invested in cutting-edge behavioral recognition software and is installing cameras on all MARTA trains and rail stations; the bus fleet has already been equipped with video surveillance technology.
A year after its launch, the Ride With Respect campaign has been a tremendous tool in making the overall customer experience more pleasant and peaceful. Later this month, MARTA will again blitz the airwaves to encourage customers to treat the system and the riding public with respect.