With the Legislature now in the second term of its session, now is the time to really get MARTA to act like a business. Businesses get to use their revenue as they see fit and are not mandated by law as to how they allocate their budgets.
Now is the time to push for the passage of Senate Bills 115 and 114. These bills will give MARTA more control over their budget. Right now, MARTA will only be able to use 50% of its revenue for operations. SB 114 gives them the option of using up to 55%. Really, they should be able to use any percentage their board deems fit. Give them that flexibility and a lot of the deficits MARTA anticipates will be greatly reduced. SB115 lets MARTA recapture some capital income as operating revenue again relieving some of the pressure on the system.
These bills have already passed the Senate and are now bottlenecked in the House. Here's the problem. No one knows who's on the Committee that will decide this fate. Speaker of the House Richardson could have simply created a Legislative Committee for MARTA made up of Legislators whose districts included MARTA service and Members of the MARTOC Oversite committee, however, he has not chosen to do that. He has not made it easy for anyone to find out who will vote on these bills on the House Side. Nothing is posted on the Committee List in the House.
So... how to get some actual movement on these bills? First, E-mail the Speaker and ask who is on the Special Committee for MARTA Legislation. Second, find out who represents you in the Georgia House and urge them to pass SB114 & 115 unamended.
We have 7 weeks to get this done. MARTOC Chairwoman Chambers was walked a tough line in getting lots of information out about MARTA and how it works. She has been dillegent in seeking out wasteful practices and tried to get information to the public about labor negotiations and budgets. Now is the time, however, for her to inform her collegues about the importance of a strong MARTA. It may not be the easiest sell, but it's important to let them know that this 5% makes a difference and will result in better MARTA service for everyone in Metro Atlanta.