MARTA drivers still parking in road, leaving buses unattended - CBS46 News

MARTA bus drivers still parking in road, leaving buses unattended

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

A CBS46 investigation uncovered an ongoing issue with MARTA buses parking in traffic while drivers take breaks. We first exposed the dilemma last July and at that time MARTA officials said they were taking steps to make sure their buses were parked safely where they don't impede traffic.

Atlanta business manager Jon Miller says the problem still exists, and he sees it happen every day along Marietta Boulevard, right in front of his pizza parlor.

"This unfortunately is a daily occurrence," Miller said.

So CBS46 went back out to check on the situation and we discovered that MARTA bus drivers are still using their bus stops as parking spots. We found drivers taking 20-minute breaks, causing serious traffic issues.

Miller says some people now avoid the area because it's unsafe and the problem has become bad for his business.

"Sometimes they're doubled up, there's one bus behind another. That's my favorite when there are two buses stopped in one lane and they're standing at the bus stop conversing," Miller said.

That's not all we saw, we spotted a MARTA driver leave her bus running and unattended while she walked nearly a quarter of a mile to a convenience store.

Then we watched as another driver parked his bus in front of the CVS on Marietta Boulevard, which is not a bus stop. The bus operator left the bus running with the door open and passengers on board.

"Why would you do that?" CBS46's Adam Murphy asked the MARTA bus driver.

"Sir, no comment. I had to use the restroom, sir. I wasn't shopping, I just had to use the restroom," the MARTA bus driver said.

It happened again a few minutes later with a different driver. So we notified MARTA and then a supervisor showed up to talk with employees. CBS46 asked the supervisor to explain the policy for bus driver breaks.

"We've seen bus after bus after bus pull up and the driver leaves the bus unattended and walks into a store with passengers on board, is that policy to do that?" Murphy asked the MARTA supervisor.

"Have a great day, sir, thank you," the MARTA supervisor responded.

We asked MARTA to send us their policy on driver breaks, but officials never did.

So what do other government funded bus services in metro Atlanta do? GRTA or the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority says drivers can safely stop and take a break, as long as they park in approved comfort stops, outside the flow of traffic. Cobb County Transit or CCT has a similar policy. Bus operators are required to find a safe location to pull the vehicle out of traffic, then drivers must notify dispatch and properly secure the vehicle before leaving it.

Last July, CBS46 took the issue to Atlanta lawyer Ray Giudice. We asked him if it's legal for MARTA buses to park in the road and block traffic.

"Absolutely not, unless there's a specific reason the bus has to stop like a mechanical breakdown, maybe something on the bus where the driver has to call for EMS or for emergency help or law enforcement," Giudice said.

Giudice referenced Georgia code 40-6-202 and other similar statues which basically say outside of a business or residential district no person shall stop, park or leave standing any vehicle upon the roadway.

So how does MARTA explain their lack of action from last year? They issued a statement which said, "MARTA is finalizing an extensive and thorough review of bus layover locations to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and the general public. We plan to complete that review within the next several weeks and will make improvements to layover locations based on factors such as traffic, road conditions and convenient access to food and restroom facilities."

"The fact that they've been told about it and they've been warned about it and it has been a news story before just proves that like 'I don't care' is a permanent term in their vocabulary," Miller said.

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