MARTA Fare Going Up To $2.50

The AJC reports that MARTA’s one-way fare will rise 50 cents to $2.50 starting October 1st.

Is raising fares on the tail-end of a recession a risky proposition?  Long-time transportation reporter Maria Saporta thinks so.  But In a response to that May post pointing to the negative effects of a fare increase (i.e. lower ridership), MARTA Chairman Jim Durrett revealed some of the thinking behind this second fare increase in two years…

All signals are that we will not receive as much support in the future from the federal government, we receive no operational support from the State of GA (and never have), and we should not base our decisions today on a future referendum.

We must seek to better diversify our revenue sources, and that includes charging user fees that are higher, but in line with our peer systems, finding other sources of income, controlling our costs, and enhancing the quality of the transit experience. We do this will full recognition of the condition of the economic and social environment in which we operate, and we hope to make a decision that best balances our desire to operate a sustainable transit system and the capacity of the public to pay for the service.

In other MARTA related news: The #2 bus service has returned to Decatur as of this Monday!

16 thoughts on “MARTA Fare Going Up To $2.50”


  1. Peer systems charge distance-based fares. Why MARTA can’t do this is impossible to understand.

    I suppose raising fares now may well be risky. Too bad MARTA did not raise fares when doing so wasn’t as risky, say anytime from 2000 to 2009. Nine years! How many other prices remain stagnant for a decade?

    Worse still is the huge increase in the monthly access since 2009, which I believe is around 80%. These are MARTA’s core riders, including low income folks who rely on MARTA to get to work. A sane pricing strategy would be to soak the wealthier, casual rider while keeping monthly fees low. But all of this just makes too much sense for what increasingly appears to be a visionless and inept management.

    1. Maybe you were outta town when this post went up a while back?

      Here’s the applicable quote from Durrett…

      “…all of our partners that have been working on delivering transit in this region agree that we need to evolve to a variable-based fare. Whether it’s the time of day that you’re traveling or how far that you’re traveling. Right now our plans are to implement that kind of a system in the year 2016 or the fiscal year 2016. It takes that long to analyze the system, to determine what the appropriate fares are, to change all of the hardware that we’ve got in place right now, in order for us to have that kind of a fare model. We’re working toward it with our partners and I believe that we will see that in 5 years.”

      1. I recall it. 2016 is pathetic. Instead of getting their act together, they wham a lot of poor folks over the head with a massive increase inthe fares and monthly passes. keep in mind they spent $$$ on Breeze just a few years ago, now they claim it’s 5 MORE years before they can use it to implement a fare system put in place by their peers long ago.

    2. You are my customers’ elected official. I want you to ignore how I spend my money and extend the sales tax that funds me. Increases of my direct charges on your constituents can be deferred until circumstances afford you (or your successor) better cover from criticism. 😉 😉

    3. Doesn’t the “wealthier, causal rider” keep fares low? MARTA spends $2 to convey him/her from some rail station to the airport; MARTA charges $2. MARTA frequently spends $8-10 for a transit dependent commuter using bus-rail-bus; MARTA charges $2.

      Who benefits least from a distance-based fare? Where is the affordable housing located? How are you factoring in bus service?

  2. I agree with DEM for a change. Going to distance based fares makes more sense than raising fares across the board. With the smart card system they are using now to enter/leave the stations, I would think this would be an easy thing to implement. You might even be able to reduce the fares on short trips and encourage more people to use the system for short trips.

  3. I’ve been riding MARTA to work five days a week for over five years. I own a car, but chose MARTA because a monthly pass (at $52.50) was cheaper than a parking space in my downtown building. With the new increase to $95, that will no longer be the case—so I will probably purchase a space and drive. I know there are many people who rely solely on MARTA and don’t have other options, but I wonder how many people like myself who own a car will be abandoning MARTA and returning to driving?

    1. But you can’t read while driving! You can’t doze off! Does your employer offer discounted monthly passes for MARTA? Are you considering gas and mileage costs for driving? Driving can be such a drag.

    2. If you figure in the cost of gas, I gotta think that riding MARTA is still cheaper for you. Plus, every mile you drive a vehicle costs you something…more miles means lower value for the car, more likely to hit something, etc. etc.

  4. A quick scan of some other subway systems gives the following results:

    Trip Fare
    NYC – $2.50
    BOS – $1.70
    DC – $1.95-$5 (dist based)
    Chicago – 2.25
    ATL – $2.50 (soon)

    Month Fares (30 day)
    NYC – $104
    BOS – $59
    DC – $47/ week ($188 mo)
    Chicago – $86
    ATL – $68

    While ATL’s rail system is smaller than most, there is a large bus system and it’s fares don’t seem all that unreasonable. If you figure $0.50 / mile to operate a car, a $2.50 per ride fee makes everything over a 5 mile commute (10 mile round trip) cheaper than driving.

    I will admit, I am not a huge user of MARTA but find it acceptable for my uses (I use it mostly for going to the airport and the occasional night out when I leave Decatur). But after living here in Decatur for almost 10 years I will state that it is my opinion that MARTA’s problems are not all of its own creation. I have never seen a city /state hate and resist the growth of it’s own transportation system more than Atlanta / Georgia. The squabbling and posturing among the city, state, and counties is counter productive at best and binds MARTA’s hands in many ways. That and the lack of state level funding……

    Anywho… as I write this all up, I found a similar but much better statement here:
    http://martarocks.com/2011/05/26/some-perspective-on-the-marta-fare-increases/

    So I defer to “UrbanCommuter” over at MARTA Rocks……

    -Steve (a satisfied, albeit casual, MARTA user)

  5. I learned at a martoc meeting that marta was getting killed financially by the weekly pass. This is the pass typically used by low income, transit dependent people. According to marta, the average weekly pass user makes 31 trips a week. Works out to about 50 cents per ride.

  6. As I recall from the early days of MARTA, distance-based pricing was avoided for fear that people in suburban areas would not support the system if they were forced to pay more “simply because I don’t choose to live in the middle of town.” Today, with efforts to get Cobb, Gwinnettt, etc., roped into the system I have to think that’s still the big worry — that they won’t join if the fare from Snellville will be twice what ti is from Decatur. I live in DC and the distance system works pretty well BUT they are beginning to shift it to more of a timing based arrangement. And here, “rush hour” for Metro is SEVERAL hours at each end of the day. You get the base fare only a couple hours either side of noon, and very late at night. And yes, even here some people in farther-out suburbs complain about being charged more to get downtown than would be the case if they lived closer in.

  7. Why MARTA fares will be higher than NYC subway fares. NYC subways have a much higher volume of people who use it, so they don’t have to charge as much. They benefit from the volume discount.

    MARTA fares have to cover the cost of the service, and if people don’t pay to ride them, the cost per rider has to go up, right?

    I think it’s insane that we’re going to consider widening an interstate to 27 lanes without much outcry but are squawking about a bump of the MARTA fare. I mean, roads cost money, too. Not to mention that roads encourage folks to drive, which causes air pollution, uses up oil, and often results in serious death and injury.

    Great cities have good public transportation systems. I think Decatur’s location on a MARTA line has contributed to its success, along with the school system and relative safety due to the police and fire departments.

  8. It is inexcusable that this backward state refuses to acknowledge that mass transit, not building wider and wider freeways, is the answer to our unbelievable traffic congestion . Not to say that every decision by MARTA management has been perfect, we still would lower the cost of commuting for everyone, create jobs by attracting more businesses, and improve air quality if the system had what it needs to run efficiently and reach more neighborhoods. In the interim, MARTA has no choice but to raise fares.

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