By John Schaffner

MARTA is increasing its fares and parking fees as of Oct. 1 but that’s only the first of the changes Brookhaven area residents will face before the end of this year. Coming Dec. 5 there will be changes to three bus routes in the community — routes 19, 70 and 139.

The single-trip cash fare and Breeze Card or Breeze Ticket fares are increasing from $1.75 to $2. A maximum of four children per paying adult, who measure 46 inches or under will still ride free.

Round trips on Breeze Cars or Breeze Tickets are increasing to $4, with 10 single trips on one card or ticket increasing to $20. Riders can get a financial break, however, by purchasing 20 single trips on one card or ticket for $34.

Day passes now range from $8 for one day to $60 for 30 days. The elderly, disabled or those on Medicare can take advantage of the “Reduced Fare Program” at 90 cents.

Long-term parking at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe rail station now will cost $5 for the first day and any part of additional days.

The fare fee changes, along with proposed changes in MARTA bus routes were presented Sept. 14 and 15 at public hearings held outside of the Brookhaven area. One was held Sept. 14 at the North Fulton Service Center in Sandy Springs, the other on Sept. 15 at the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur.

The bus route changes that will most affect Brookhaven residents and those coming to Brookhaven using the MARTA rail system to the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe station, are:

Route 19 – Clairmont Road: Service on Drew Valley Road/Thompson Road will discontinue. Route 19 service to Century Center will be served by the proposed realignment of Route 70. Route 19 service to the Skyland community will be replaced by Route 139.

Route 70 – Chamblee: The bus will operate between Brookhaven Station and Century Center, replacing service currently provided by Route 19. Route 70 will also service the Briarwood Road and I-85 access roads currently serviced by Route 139.

The Buford Highway, Clairmont Road to North DeKalb Health Center (select trips) and New Peachtree Road segment to Chamblee Station will be serviced by the proposed realignment of Route 139.

Route 70 buses will operate every 45 minutes and provide the Century Center complex with new midday and weekend service.

Route 139 – Lenox/Plaza Fiesta – This bus will operate from Lenox Station to Chamblee Station via Buford Highway, Clairmont Road and New Peachtree Road, replacing service currently provided by Route 70. Route 139 will also service the Skyland community instead of Route 19.

MARTA officials state they are making these changes to deal with the agency’s continuing financial challenges in difficult economic times.