MARTA blames COVID-19

by Robin Kemp

If you plan on riding MARTA this Saturday, December 18, be prepared for some changes–especially on Routes 194 (Conley Road/Mt. Zion) and 196 (Upper Riverdale/Southlake).

While both routes are going to change slightly–we’ve asked MARTA whether the new routes have been finalized and will link them here as soon as they’re available–only Route 196 (Upper Riverdale/Southlake) will continue to run on a weekday schedule. All other Clayton County bus routes, and many throughout the system, will move to Saturday schedules on weekdays due to COVID-19 staffing shortages.

MARTA is down about 187 drivers. It says some of its employees are refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or to turn in weekly COVID-19 test results, “leading to more vacancies.” However, MARTA has not been able to hire enough new drivers to fill those slots, and says absenteeism is high among the rest of its staff. MARTA says that’s why it’s had to cancel some routes or change schedules at the last minute.

That means many of the metro’s 113 bus routes will go to a Saturday schedule on weekdays, including but not limited to:

  • Route 4: Moreland Avenue
  • Route 34: Gresham Road
  • Route 47: I-85 Access Road
  • Route 49: McDonough Boulevard (with some route changes)
  • Route 82: Camp Creek/S. Fulton Parkway
  • Route 84: Washington Road / Camp Creek Marketplace
  • Route 95: Metropolitan Parkway
  • Route 117: Rockbridge Road/Panola Road
  • Route 155: Pittsburgh
  • Route 165: Fairburn Road
  • Route 178: Empire Boulevard/Southside Industrial Park
  • Route 180: Roosevelt Highway
  • Route 181: Washington Road/Fairburn
  • ROute 188: Oakley Industrial
  • Route 189: Flat Shoals Road/Scofield Road
  • Route 191: Riverdale/ATL International Terminal
  • Route 192: Old Dixie/Tara Boulevard
  • Route 193: Morrow/Jonesboro (with some route changes)
  • Route 194: Conley Road/Mt. Zion (with some route changes)
  • Route 195: Forest Parkway
  • Route 197: Battle Creek Road
  • Route 198: Southlake Parkway
  • Route 800: Lovejoy
  • Route 813: Atlanta University Center

However, some will continue to run on a weekday schedule. Those include:

  • Route 5: Piedmont Road/Sandy Springs
  • Route 39: Buford Highway
  • Route 71: Cascade Road
  • Route 73: Fulton Industrial
  • Route 78: Cleveland Avenue
  • Route 83: Campbellton Road
  • Route 89: Old National Highway
  • Route 110: Peachtree Road/Buckhead
  • Route 121: Memorial Drive/N. Hairston Road
  • Route 142: E. Holcomb Bridge Road
  • Route 143: Windward Park and Ride
  • Route 148: Mt. Vernon Highway
  • Route 186: Rainbow Drive/S. Dekalb
  • Route 196: Upper Riverdale/Southlake
  • Route 221: Memorial Drive Limited
  • Route 295: Metropolitan Campus Express
  • Route 825: Johnson Ferry Road

Also beginning Dec. 18, the following bus routes will have routing changes:

MARTA calls these changes a “routine route adjustment” that is unrelated to the Saturday schedule on other routes.

Other important changes to note include:

  • Route 49: McDonough Boulevard Service along Hill Street south of Englewood Avenue and on McDonough Boulevard west of Boulevard will be temporarily discontinued.
  • Route 55: Jonesboro Road School trips to South Atlanta High School will be temporarily discontinued.
  • Route 193: Morrow/Jonesboro The loop to the Clayton Transitional Center along Lake Mirror Road, Frontage Road, Falcon Drive and Braves Drive will be temporarily discontinued.

“We have to provide reliable service. It’s that simple,” said MARTA Deputy General Manager of Operations Collie Greenwood. “Adjusting our service schedule was a difficult decision, but a necessary one so our customers can count on their bus to be there. We expect to return to our regular service soon and we ask that customers remain patient as we work to hire qualified bus operators.”

To help riders cope with service gaps between 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., MARTA will offer rideshare discounts through its MARTAConnect program. The program will be adjusted in mid-January depending on demand and MARTA’s ability to increase routes. If you travel early in the morning, visit itsmarta.com for more on how to claim your rideshare discount. Here are links for vouchers for Uber and Lyft, as well as vouchers specifically for the Route 800 Lovejoy Uber and Lyft rides way down in the Panhandle.

MARTA says it will update bus route schedules on www.itsmarta.com and on the MARTA On the Go app beginning Saturday, December 18.

If you’re looking for work as a bus driver, MARTA says it’s “actively recruiting bus operators through every available channel and holding monthly job fairs to bring those numbers up.” If you;re a bus operator or journeyman bus technician, MARTA will pay you a $3,000 sign-on bonus. Keep in mind: if you’re hired, you must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Apply online at https://itsmarta.com/current-job-openings.aspx

COVID isn’t over. MARTA reminds riders that it’s against federal law to refuse to wear a mask inside stations and on buses, trains, and streetcars. Anyone who refuses to wear a mask in these places will be suspended from the system for 12 hours.


Is this information useful to you? Consider supporting The Clayton Crescent with a tax-deductible donation between now and December 31 so that we can make our triple match! Help keep Clayton County informed. Make your gift of any amount at https://findyournews.org/organization/the-clayton-crescent-inc/ and you’ll help us keep everyone in the loop! Thank you and Happy Holidays!

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