A handful of bus routes that had been on the chopping block for months were saved at the last minute before MARTA approved sweeping cuts of bus and train service.
None of those routes were in DeKalb County, however.
MARTA’s new $710 million budget for fiscal year 2011 represents a 10 percent reduction in bus service systemwide, a 14 percent reduction in rail service and hikes in weekly, monthly and Mobility passes, MARTA officials said. The cuts were necessary to plug a $69 million deficit – a gift considering MARTA had been anticipating a $120 million deficit earlier this year.
The number of bus routes decreased from 131 to 91 routes. The following DeKalb routes are among those cut entirely:
Route 18 – South Decatur
Route 22 – Second Avenue
Route 28 – Village of East Lake
Route 96 – Snapfinger Woods Drive
Route 122 – Georgia Perimeter College
Route 139 – Lenox/Chamblee
Route 151 – Perimeter Center/Chamblee
Route 216 – Lithonia Express
In most cases, riders of slashed routes may be able to find solutions on alternate routes that intersect. Other routes have been altered to accommodate some of the eliminations. In other cases, however, some areas will simply no longer receive bus service. For instance, on Route 122 (Georgia Perimeter College), service will no longer be provided along East College Avenue, Indian Creek Way, Northern Avenue, Church Street and Glendale Road between Church Street to North Decatur Road.
The busiest segments of Route 122 are also served by other routes, a MARTA report said, and areas no longer served are at least a quarter-mile away from other serviced areas.
Route 216 (Lithonia Express) is a premium route from Lithonia, west on Interstate 20 and straight into downtown Atlanta. Lithonia riders will still be able to reach their destinations through other routes, but they won’t get the straight shot.
“We are extremely disappointed to make these cuts at a time when affordable and environmentally responsible transportation options are needed more than ever,” MARTA CEO Beverly Scott said.
Routes saved from the cutting board are the result of community meetings across the Atlanta region, officials said. While many changes to DeKalb County routes will go on as planned, some proposed changes were modified following rider comments, they said.
The 2011 fiscal year begins July 1, and the cuts will take effect at various times over the next several months, MARTA officials said. Bus route changes will take effect Sept. 25 and price increases will go into effect Oct. 3.
More detailed information regarding each route can be found at MARTA’s website at www.itsmarta.com.