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Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

How healthy is MARTA's bottom line?

MARTA recently presented reporters with details about its financial picture, and it's beginning to look quite rosy.

The agency's reserves are forecast to rise by $25.5 million in fiscal year 2015. Last year, they rose by $14.7 million. That's a huge turnaround from being on track to lose $35 million in reserves in fiscal year 2011.

Meanwhile, the agency's total reserves are climbing, and projected to top $191 million in fiscal year 2015.

Both sales tax revenue and passenger revenue have increased over the past four years, last year the gains were 16.2 percent and 26.8 percent respectively.

All of these measures are good signs that, as CEO Keith Parker is fond of repeating, the transit agency has gotten its financial house in order. And that could put MARTA in a better position to seek state legislation that would enable a half-percent sales tax increase it so badly wants in DeKalb and Fulton counties.

MARTA has said the additional revenue from such a tax could be leveraged to fund up to $8 billion worth of major expansion projects up Ga. 400 North, out I-20 East and through the Clifton Corridor. It might even allow MARTA to "start a "conversation" with the city of Atlanta about using some of that money to bring transit to the Beltline, said MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe.

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