New MARTA chief looks to overhaul system

10:26 AM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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MARTA commuter train


ATLANTA -- He's been on the job just over a month, and now MARTA's new general manager is calling for an end to business as usual at the transit system.

Keith Parker took over the position on December 10th. He worked on the Charlotte, North Carolina and San Antonio, Texas transit systems before coming to Atlanta. 

Now he is spear-heading an aggressive re-structuring of MARTA operations. 

"Our current path is simply unsustainable," he said. "Right now we're looking at a $25-35 million deficit depending on each given year. And the way we're meeting those deficits, the prior way to meeting them, has been to eat into the MARTA reserves. Essentially you're taking money from your savings account to pay month-to-month expenses."

Parker said the system cannot go to the State Legislature to ask for help or rule changes until the MARTA house is in fiscal order. 

His recommendations come on the heels of an outside KPMG audit suggesting privatization, out-sourcing many systems including paratransit services, cleaning crews, call center operators, human resources, and payroll.  

Parker said innovation will be key and he wants the public sector, current MARTA employees, to compete with private companies to offer the best solutions. 

His timeline for change is three to five years.

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