A coalition of transit workers, Georgians with disabilities, and transit advocates demanded that MARTA give due consideration to workable alternatives to outsourcing Paratransit services. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local 732 offered their MARTA Mobility proposal as a means to achieving most of the agency’s cost and efficiency service goals.
The proposal is a direct response to a KPMG commissioned report that recommended outsourcing Paratransit services. MARTA’s board is expected to vote at its next meeting on whether these services should be outsourced. A yes vote would trigger an issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to privatize the federally mandated service.
“Nothing about us without us. How dare MARTA make such an important decision that’s going to adversely affect our community without our input. We demand that an entity be created that will give us a genuine partnership instead of the sham groups and committees that have existed to date”, said Shelia Powell, Board Member, Disability Link.
ATU identifies three areas as key to cost savings and improvements:
“Our workers have been in the business of transporting Atlanta’s less abled people and seniors for a long time. We know the routes, the people, the scheduling, and we know the equipment. We believe that we and our passengers bring value to any conversation that considers substantial changes to any transit services. We’re simply asking for a fair chance to preserve a vital service for our City’s most vulnerable residents,” said Curtis Howard, ATU local 732 president.
This latest round of outsourcing deliberations is in the wake of an earlier failed attempt to privatize paratransit services. In that instance, it was quickly determined that outsourcing was not yielding the desired results. Furthermore, Keith Parker, MARTA CEO, while transit director in San Antonio, was on a government committee that published a report that found privately operated paratransit service nationwide is extremely poor compared to service operated in-house by public agencies.
In addition to the areas cited above, ATU’s comprehensive proposal sets forth recommendations in the following areas: