Atlanta’s mass transit provider MARTA last week announced fare increases as well as reductions in staff and service in conjunction with the presentation of a fiscal 2011 budget.

Staff had recommended a net operating budget of $389.6 million and a total capital budget of $320.8 million, which includes $132.8 million allocated for debt service.

After public hearings are held June 7-8, MARTA’s board of directors will meet June 28 to formally adopt the budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

“As a result of the ongoing economic downturn and severe multi-year decrease in MARTA’s sales tax revenues, the authority for the second year in a row is proposing a budget that includes significant internal and external cost-cutting measures to balance its budget,” MARTA officials said in a release.

The internal measures include eliminating 743 positions — 392 occupied jobs requiring employee layoffs and 351 vacant positions — as well as continuing a moratorium on annual merit increases for all non-union employees and a 10-day furlough for non-union employees.

No wage or salary increases for fiscal 2011-2013 have been proposed.

External cost-cutting measures include continuing the incremental increase in pass prices, reducing the number of children who can ride for free to two from four, reducing customer call center hours, and closing all station rest rooms to the public except those at the Five Points station.

More savings would come from modifying transit services, including an 11.3% reduction in bus service, a 15% reduction in rail service, and reduced frequency of departures.

The final budget recommendations were developed after MARTA reviewed and incorporated feedback from 3,800 surveys and nearly 7,000 comments from customers who participated in nine community forums in February and March. 

MARTA is proposing to restore some service originally slated for reduction because the Georgia Legislature earlier this year removed a restriction against using more than half of its sales tax revenues for operations.

Improvements in sales tax collections are forecast as well.

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