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The region needs to rally behind a $100 billion investment in transit and technology over the next 40 years, said Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Parker at the 6th annual "State of MARTA" breakfast held Jan. 11 in Atlanta. The agency is healthy, financially stable and ready for expansion, he said at the event, according to a press release. Parker promised a renewed commitment to world-class customer service and expanding MARTA as a catalyst for economic growth, innovative mobility approaches and community revitalization. But to ensure metro Atlanta's growth as a world-class region, a long-term transit investment plan is needed to rival similar plans unfolding in peer cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C., he believes."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. "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."During his address, Parker also announced several initiatives the agency is undertaking. For example, MARTA is establishing a rider advisory council to provide passengers a formal voice to suggest meaningful improvements to the transit system.In addition, the agency is:• hiring a chief customer experience officer to represent riders internally and influence actions; • launching a multiyear renovation and enhancement program to upgrade and overhaul all 38 stations;• promoting integrated transit-oriented development at stations;• implementing a comprehensive training strategy for frontline employees and management to improve customer service; and • creating a station manager career track for frontline employees who deal directly with riders.
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