Tag Archives: beverly scott

MARTA: Audit results in, Scott shipping out

25 Sep

Five Points Station, Forsyth Street side

 

  • The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported today that MARTA CEO Beverly Scott is headed to Boston to become MBTA’s general manager when her contract with MARTA expires in December.

Scott spent five years as MARTA CEO and will take a significant salary cut in the new position, which Boston’s WBUR said will pay $220,000 per year for three years. MARTOC’s annual report for fiscal year 2011 lists Scotts salary as $315,000 per year.

She was chosen unanimously by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s board, which was also considering MARTA COO Dwight Ferrell for the job.

“She’ll take the helm of an agency teetering from fiscal problems rooted in heavy debt and coping with expansion demands as well as a backlog of maintenance needs that have gone unaddressed due to insufficient funds,” the Boston radio station said. Sounds like she’ll feel right at home.

Scott, who is scheduled to take up the new post Dec. 15., plans to finish her transportation career at MBTA, telling WBUR that “This is the one where I’m going to end up.”

The auditing firm projects that, although MARTA has addressed a steep fall-off in revenue through layoffs, furloughs, position eliminations, increases in employee insurance premiums and copays, a five-year pay freeze and service cuts galore, the agency’s spending will continue to surpass revenue through 2021 . According to that forecast the revenue shortfall created by the end of fiscal year 2021 would be $248 million. The audit also projected that MARTA will exhaust its financial reserves by the end of fiscal year 2018 and the agency’s reserve fund will fall below its mandated 10 percent level by the end of fiscal year 2016.

“MARTA’s current economic model is unsustainable,” the auditors concluded.

Two revenue leaks that the agency has failed to plug, Creative Loafing reported, are almost $11 million spent to cover employee absenteeism, and retirement costs that exceed the national average by about $22 million annually. The audit report said that collective bargaining agreements with union-represented employees “do not assist MARTA in controlling absenteeism.”

Suggestions to help MARTA save money included contracting out some services like cleaning, payroll, records and data management and customer service. To increase its income, the auditors suggested that MARTA look into selling advertising space on its Web site, on fare cards and fare gates along with increasing the number of ad-wrapped buses and rail cars. They also recommended that MARTA implement daily or monthly parking fees, rent secure bicycle storage at stations and consider “renaming stations for corporate sponsors.”

New service cuts could be in MARTA’s future

3 Apr

The AJC reported yesterday that the state legislature’s failure to pass a bill suspending MARTA’s  50/50 revenue-spending split is likely to result in “deep service cuts.”

HB 1052 would have lifted until 2016 the requirement that half of the agency’s revenue be set aside for capital expenses and half used for capital improvements. The current exemption to that law will remain in effect until July 2013.

“The transit agency, banking on commitments from legislators,  expected to keep the exemption for at least three more years but without it expects to lose a projected total of  $9.7 million during that time,” The AJC reported.

MARTA officials wanted the spending limits permanently lifted, but had agreed to the three-year suspension as a compromise. But a group of Democrats in the House opposed the measure because they wanted a more permanent fix. The result was that the legislation was, in the words of MARTOC Chairman Mike Jacobs, “torpedoed.”

The legislature could pass the bill early next session, which would keep the exemption in effect, Jacobs said. If that doesn’t happen, the combination of still-low sales tax revenue and the spending restriction will force the agency to “gut significant parts of the service,” MARTA’s General Manager, Beverly Scott told The AJC.

MARTA is also looking at other was to trim costs, including increasing non-union employees’ health care contributions and reducing management staff, The AJC reported. The agency expects to find even more places to cut expenses when it analyzes the findings from the second part of a three-phase audit at the end of this year.

Scott on cuts and capacity, Flowers leaves TIA campaign, and TIGGER funds power Laredo

4 Dec

It’s difficult to remember the last time MARTA was adding rather than subtracting service. For years now, bus coverage has been attenuated and train headways have crept into the double digits, all in an effort to address budget shortfalls. But in an interview concerning the agency’s ongoing three-phase audit, MARTA’s general manager Beverly Scott described just how badly attempts at “cutting our way” back into the black have undermined the system’s functionality:

“We are operating at less than 30 percent of our capacity,” she said. “We have the ability to run our trains every 90 seconds (at peak times, MARTA trains run about every eight minutes). We need to have travel times that are competitive.”

  • Also from The Saporta Report:

Another member of the regional team charged with generating voter support for next summer’s transportation sales tax referendum has disembarked. Communications Manager Liz Flowers resigned in mid-November. Glenn Totten, former lead consultant for the campaign, resigned in August.

  • Another MARTA tidbit:

MARTA’s Laredo bus maintenance facility is now the site of what the agency says is “is the largest solar canopy in Georgia and the second largest structure of its kind at a United States transit system.”  The structure was built with $10.8 million in federal TIGGER grant funding awarded in 2009.  It provides cover for 220 bus parking stalls, which are lit by solar-powered LEDs. Laredo operates 24 hours a day and the new canopy’s photovoltaic cells are producing “enough electricity to offset a significant portion of this facility’s annual electricity consumption,” MARTA said in a press release.

Officials at Laredo bus facility ribbon cutting

Officials and technology company representatives attend the Laredo facility's solar canopy ribbon-cutting. Photo courtesy of MARTA

In addition to reducing electricity consumption and producing light for nighttime work,  the canopy will provide shade during the day. It’s expected to reduce the temperature underneath it by “between 20 and 30 degrees” during the summer, decreasing the need for air conditioning and fuel use by idling buses.

See the photo at Metro Magazine for a better idea of the canopy’s size.

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