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Paratransit Newsletter logo

Volume 1, Issue 1

Inside this issue:

  • Improving Paratransit Services
  • Paratransit Ridership at an All-Time High
  • Patrons Speak Out in Special Focus Groups
  • MARTA Budgets $2.75M to Update Paratransit Fleet
  • MARTA Increases Paratransit Staff
  • Improving Customer Communications: New “Call Center” System
  • MARTA’s New Breeze Card Program

Improving Paratransit Services

MARTA’s goal is to deliver first-class Paratransit services. If a problem occurs, we are committed to replying promptly to customer feedback and ideas on how we can improve our internal systems.

MARTA’s Paratransit patrons have voiced concerns regarding the timeliness, efficiency and sensitivity exhibited towards the needs of our Paratransit patrons.
To address these concerns, MARTA has:

Appointed a task force to evaluate Paratransit activities.

Conducted patron and Paratransit operator “focus groups” to obtain first-hand knowledge of daily experiences.

Consulted with industry leaders to identify “best practices” for delivery of first-class Paratransit services.

The General Manager has declared Paratransit services improvement a top priority for MARTA.

Paratransit Ridership at an All-Time High

Significant ridership growth has occurred during fiscal years 2000 through 2006. The annual growth rate on Paratransit services exceeds 10 percent. This heightened demand for
Paratransit services has resulted in a strain on existing Paratransit resources.
Action plans have been designed to address these issues.

Special points of interest:

Paratransit ridership has increased from 146,00 annual trips in 2000 to over 300,000 annual trips in 2006.

The Fiscal Year 2007 Paratransit Budget includes a $4 Million increase to address Paratransit growth trends.

Patrons Speak Out in Special Focus Groups

A focus group is a carefully planned discussion designed to obtain perceptions of a defined area of interest in a permissive, non-threatening environment. It is conducted by a small group of 6–10 people with a skilled interviewer. It is used to learn more about opinions on a designated topic and then to guide future action. Focus groups are a good method to get people involved in the decision-making process and to have them provide their input regarding the topic.

During the week of April 17, 2006, more than 45 Paratransit patrons participated in five focus groups conducted by MARTA. These groups were utilized as a means to evaluate our Paratransit services and solicit new ideas to enhance efficiencies. Group members influenced each other by responding to ideas and comments in the discussions.

Key Issues Identified by Focus Group Participants:

Improved scheduling of patrons’ trips
Excessive time on the Paratransit vehicle
Insensitive MARTA staff
Inability to access MARTA personnel by telephone
Untimely pick ups and drop offs
Breeze Card transition
Increased resources for Paratransit services
Making Paratransit a priority

“MARTA Paratransit Operators received high praise from focus group participants during the April 2006 focus group sessions”

“Under the watchful eye of the Elderly Disabled Access Advisory Committee, MARTA will consult and report on each area of concern brought forth by the Focus Groups.”

MARTA Budgets $2.75 Million to Update Paratransit Fleet

Each year MARTA retires its older Paratransit vehicles and replaces them with new vans. For fiscal year 2007, MARTA has committed not only to replace 36 older vans, but to purchase an additional 14 Lvans. The upgrade and addition of new vehicles will reduce the current strain on the system by allowing more manifests to be generated. This will allow for more timely pick ups and drop offs.

MARTA Increases Paratransit Staff

With an emphasis on safety, reliability and customer comfort, MARTA strives to offer the best curb-to-curb transportation to individuals with disabilities who are eligible for Paratransit service under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). MARTA’s fleet of 125 vans provides service to over 4,000 eligible customers. Paratransit van services operate 365 days a year and currently perform over 300,000 trips annually.

MARTA has recently increased its Paratransit staffing levels to respond to the increase in service demands.

We have added:
20 Paratransit Operators
1 Paratransit Reservationist
2 Automotive Mechanics
1 Paratransit Customer Service Representative (dedicated exclusively to handle Paratransit complaints)

Improving Customer Communications: New “Call Center” System

Communicating successfully with customers is an essential part of doing business. MARTA is working hard to improve its ability to communicate effectively. Paratransit patrons have indicated that they are often unable to contact dispatchers concerning their pickups. Many patrons receive a busy signal, a line disconnect or a continuous ringing when calling the 4212 (Where is my ride?) extension.

On May 1, 2006, MARTA completed the implementation of the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) process, which is similar to a call center system. This new system will route calls to available staff while holding patrons in a queue. Patrons, while in the queue, will receive call answer wait time information, music or other messages as deemed appropriate.

Additionally, when calling the 4212 line the patron will have five options to select from:

 "Where is my ride?"Service
Window Dispatcher
Customer Service Center

Customer Service at MARTA
We're at your service. Our goal is to provide you with reliable, quality transportation and a speedy, effective response if we don't meet your expectations.

If you have a bright idea, complaint or commendation, we want to know. Send an e‑mail to:

MARTA’s New Breeze Card Program

MARTA is currently replacing old equipment with new Breeze faregates and vending machines. Coins and tokens will not be accepted at Breeze faregates, but can be used at Breeze vending machines to purchase a one-way ride.

Weekly and monthly MARTA transcards can still be used at all rail stations and on all busses until the system is fully converted. MARTA is scheduled to complete installation of all Breeze equipment in 2006.

When Breeze card readers are installed on Paratransit vehicles, Paratransit customers may continue to pay with cash or may use the Breeze card ID to pay a fare.

The Breeze card offers a variety of fare product options and automatic reloading capabilities. Paratransit patrons may load a single ride, weekly fare or monthly fare onto the Breeze card.

Registered (extended use) Breeze cards can be replaced if lost or stolen, retaining their value.

For more information regarding the Breeze card, contact MARTA customer service at (404) 848-5000.
Phone: (404) 848-5000
2424 Piedmont Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30324

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