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

Report: MARTA one of country's least affordable transit systems


MARTA announced that there will no fare increase in 2017, but the transit service remains one of the most expensive in the nation, according to one report.

A comparison between Georgia's minimum wage and MARTA's transit fare makes Atlanta's transit system one of the nation's most expensive.

The current fare is $2.50 one way, with free transfers between rail and bus. Special fares are offered for students, senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

Data from the Atlanta Regional Commission and Neighborhood Nexus shows that a worker making minimum wage would have to work a total of 41 minutes to make up for the cost of transportation in Atlanta.

MARTA shares the no. 1 spot with Dallas' DART and Salt Lake City's UTA. Georgia, Texas and Utah all mandate the federal minimum wage.

The report only looks at bus fare, not metro fare. MARTA is one of the country's transit services that has a flat fare and offers free transfers between rail and bus if riders use a Breeze Card.

In comparison, the Washington, D.C. transit authority WMATA, which ranks as the most affordable on the report, calculates metrorail fare by distance between stations and by time of day. A one-way metrorail fare in the nation's capital can range from $1.75 to $5.90.

MARTA last increased its fare in 2011 and 2009. Fare for a single trip rose from $2 to $2.50 and a cost for a monthly pass rose from $52.50 to $95 in 2011. MARTA received backlash from customers for raising prices during the economic recovery period.

In January, MARTA unveiled a new silver Breeze Card with a new price: $2, not including fare. The silver card will be good for three years. The previous Breeze Card, which is scheduled to be phased out by mid-2017, was blue and cost $1.

Georgia is somewhat unusual in that the state’s minimum wage — $5.15 an hour — is actually lower than the $7.25-an-hour federal one, which takes precedence in most situations.

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