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New MARTA Chief Promises Transparency as He Takes on ‘Most Complex Job in the Transit Industry’

In a “welcome to Atlanta” press conference Friday morning, new MARTA General Manager and CEO Keith Parker promised to run an open and transparent agency.

In that spirit, he promised his new contract would be on MARTA’s website within hours and available for public review. A copy was then handed out to reporters showing he has a base annual salary of $320,000 during the five-year contract. He will join MARTA on Dec. 10.

Parker also showed he was aware of the multitude of issues facing MARTA, including having a negative image and perception.

“I think changing the image of the transit system starts with me,” said Parker, who said he would move to a home next to a MARTA stop. “That’s going to be part of my daily plan — use my BreezeCard and ride it everyday.”

In his opening remarks, Parker also showed he read in full detail the findings of the KPMG audit that recommended several areas where MARTA could save money, including privatizing a number of functions.

During his transit career — both in Charlotte, N.C., and San Antonio, Texas — Parker said he tried all sorts of approaches to run a more efficient operation. In Charlotte, he tried the concept of “managed competition,” where the agency’s employees would compete against the private sector for the work.

“The public sector employees were so competitive that private companies quit competing,” Parker said.

When he comes to Atlanta, Parker pledged to look into all the options for the best solutions.

In the national transit sector, MARTA is viewed as “the most complex job in the transit industry…

Read more: Maria Saporta, Atlanta Business Chronicle

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