MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker is encouraging a $100 billion investment he describes as a “moonshot for transit.” Parker made the remarks at Friday morning’s annual State of MARTA Breakfast before a sold-out crowd of community, business, and civic leaders at the Loews Atlanta Hotel in Downtown.
Parker said the state of MARTA is healthy, financially stable and ready for expansion. Recognizing that service drives ridership, he promised a renewed commitment to customer service and expanding MARTA as a catalyst for economic growth, innovative approaches to mobility and community revitalization.
He challenged the crowd to rally behind a $100 billion investment in transit and technology over the next 40 years similar to the long-term capital plans in cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C. He also compared the big dollar investment to the bold plans America had in the 1960s to send men to the moon and the innovation in space travel heralded by that 1969 landing.
“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 told the audience. “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.”
Parker also outlined new initiatives MARTA is undertaking, including the creation of a rider advisory council, hiring a chief customer experience officer, launching a multi-year overhaul of all 38 MARTA stations and new career opportunities.
MARTA Board Chair Freda Hardage also reflected on MARTA’s years of service and the need for continued regional collaboration among metro leaders to keep the nation’s ninth largest transit system on track.
“It really takes our employees, business leaders, elected officials and our riders coming together to help make MARTA stronger,” Hardage said. “My predecessor Robbie Ashe did a yeoman’s job leading MARTA’s Board of Directors while working closely with all of our stakeholders and leadership across the state to advance regional mobility and accessibility. Today, we renewed our commitment to build upon that same dynamic zeal as we look to the next 40 years for MARTA.”
The State of MARTA Breakfast was hosted by the Council for Quality Growth.