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The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) board on Monday approved a $427 million operating budget and $430.5 million capital budget for fiscal-year 2014.The spending plan, which includes $141 million for debt service, preserves existing transit service and avoids a previously projected 25-cent fare increase as part of a five-year strategy to stabilize the agency's finances, improve rider experience and build employee morale, MARTA officials said in a press release."The budget puts us on a forward path, and our management team will continue to assess and make recommendations on how to best address the challenges before us in ways that will ultimately strengthen MARTA as a whole," said Chairman Frederick Daniels Jr.Budget and long-term strategy highlights include implementing a "secret shopper" program to monitor and improve rider service (FY2014); adopting a zero-tolerance policy against "knucklehead" behavior (FY2014); reopening rail station restrooms previously closed to riders (FY2015); and restoring some transit service (FY2017).
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