Nelson Mandela-Washington Fellows Welcomed To Atlanta

The Atlanta Business League, led by Leona Barr-Davenport (far right, second row), hosted 25 Mandela-Washington Fellows for Young African Leaders in Business and Entrepreneurship last week, on June 24, at their office on M.L. King, Jr. Dr., SW Atlanta. Additionally, the Fellows were feted by Clark Atlanta University the following day as a host institution for President Obama's Mandela-Washington Fellowship program. The 25 Fellows will spend six weeks at Clark Atlanta engaged in business and entrepreneurship course work, as well as integrating with leadership training, peer collaboration, experiential learning and and community activities. The Fellows, 12 females and 13 males, represent 17 nations within the initiative of the U.S. Department of State. They were also celebrated with a reception and dinner, on June 25, at Clark Atlanta for their presence in the southeastern U.S. this summer. For more information on the Fellows and the program, visit PHOTO BY CURTIS McDOWELL

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MARTA Institutes Increases

BY DAVID STOKES In line with the price of gas costing more for the summer months—although one has nothing to do with the other—Atlanta's rapid train system, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, or MARTA, is set to raise the price of consumers' purchase of BREEZE cards beginning next fiscal year, which begins on July 1, as well as will raise the cost of a visitor's breeze ticket/pass for temporary transportation within the city and immediate metro area next month. MARTA will increase the price of Breeze cards, from $1 to $2 beginning next month "to become more durable and less vulnerable to possible fraud" to customers as it re-designs with a new chip for better customer usage and application. While present-day Breeze cards have yet to become obsolete, all customers seeking to enter a train station or ride buses will eventually have to purchase the new, improved card, according to MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris. Furthermore, a Breeze ticket for passengers will increase as well from fifty cents to $1, thereby, providing temporary transportation mostly to visitors of the city. In a statement pertaining to the increase, "MARTA is introducing new Breeze fare (media) cards and tickets for our customers that will be more secure and less vulnerable to possible fraud and tampering. Customers will be able to use existing Breeze cards without interruption, and for an extended period of time, as new cards and tickets are fully integrated into the system." The single fare of $2.50 is not being raised this fiscal year, Harris indicated; however, "that is a board of directors' decision" that possibly could take place next year for a possible increase of fare for the 2016 fiscal year, scheduled to begin next July 1. While the cost is not set to benefit the transit authority, according to the statement, patrons are perplexed on why the increase. "If (card increase money) is not going for the upkeep of trains and buses, then what's really the point of an increase?," queried Dylan Stewart, a Georgia State University student who rides the Eastbound train into town from Smyrna. "Why tack on an increase for cards when a fare increase is probably coming next year." Exclaimed Lynda Garrison of northwest Atlanta, "I'm not too surprised of the increase. I'm just trying to brace myself for how much higher the bus fare will rise to next year." Last month, on June 4, MARTA's 12-member board, led by chairman/city of Atlanta businessman Robert Ashe 3rd, approved its 2016 general Operations and Capital Improvements budget set to take effect this fiscal year which began this week, on July 1st. In the budget, $448.5 million was allocated for operational expenditures, including bus drivers' and subway train personnel's salaries, and $432 million was set aside for capital improvements, including $148.9 million for "debt service," thereby, totaling nearly $900 million. Since January, Clayton Co. has had its two members join the board of the nation's eighth largest transit authority: community activist/former state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam of Riverdale and Jonesboro businessman Jerry Griffin.