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Oct 14

MARTA Workers Praise CEO Parker for Report on Perils of Outsourcing Paratransit

Memo to MARTA Board reveals Parker’s groundbreaking study conflicts with flawed KPMG report

Atlanta, GA - The quality and stability of privately operated paratransit service nationwide is extremely poor compared to service operated in-house by public agencies according to a recent national study released by a panel of experts led by MARTA GM/CEO Keith Parker.

ATU International President Larry Hanley forwarded the report in a memo to MARTA Board members as Parker and Board Chair Robbie Ashe have concocted a scheme to dismantle and sell off MARTA’s mobility service to private companies.

When Parker was with Metropolitan Transit in San Antonio, he served on the National Academy of Science Transit Cooperative Research Program’s Transit Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee, which released the study.

“Mr. Parker was instrumental in commissioning a highly-respected study exposing the serious problems created by paratransit outsourcing,” says Hanley. “So how does he justify using a discredited KPMG report to outsource paratransit service in Atlanta?”

Paratransit service for seniors and people with disabilities is growing in Atlanta and across the country and the most important factor for the poor quality of service is worker turnover.

“Turnover has been identified as the biggest problem in maintaining a professional level of service for Atlanta’s most vulnerable citizens,” Hanley continues, “So why does he advocate outsourcing paratransit, when his own study reveals that privatizing paratransit threatens the safety and reliability of this critical service due to higher worker turnover?”

Parker’s report states: “Annual turnover of vehicle operators averages 30 percent among private contracted providers and is often much higher. Only 29% of private companies providing ADA paratransit services under contract to public entities consistently operate with a full complement of vehicle operators. Among public entities that operate services in-house, 50% report a full workforce.”

Hanley pointed out in the memo there are many cautionary tales of paratransit privatization in cities such as Dallas and Palm Beach, Fla. Private contractors make lofty promises of cost savings and better service but fail miserably, providing awful service on unsafe vehicles.

“I challenge Mr. Parker to explain how he justifies outsourcing MARTA paratransit when his own national study clearly shows that privatizing this vital service will create additional hardship for Atlanta’s most vulnerable citizens,” says Hanley.