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Atlanta Streetcar: Can free rides, Pokémon boost transit system?

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No need for streetcar fares on last Tuesdays of each month

With the threat of a government-led shutdown in the rearview, and with referenda in the near future (Nov. 8) that could change everything, Atlanta Streetcar leaders are looking toward fresh, inventive ways to spark interest in the beleaguered but nascent transit system.

Like free rides. Again.

And Pokémon.

On the last Tuesdays of each month (i.e., four days from now), the transit system has deployed a “Try It Tuesdays” strategy that makes rides free all day and night. They urge locals and visitors alike to: “Hop [on] and explore Downtown Atlanta via the Atlanta Streetcar!” It’s like 2015 all over again, when rides didn’t cost anything for a year.

What’s more, on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this month, the system has hosted a so-called “#ATLStreetcarGO Experience.” It’s explained as follows:

“Enjoy four hours of custom #PokemonGO gaming each day for just $2. We’re inviting everyone to come out and enjoy a relaxing ride on the Atlanta Streetcar while catching all your favorite Pokémon.”

Maybe it’s a coincidence these initiatives have launched mere weeks before Atlantans cast ballots for two referenda that could boost investment in transportation and transit infrastructure like nothing before. Maybe not.

The city says the transit-focused referendum — a half-penny MARTA sales tax — could generate $2.5 billion over the next four decades for transit expansion and enhancements, which would include the Atlanta Streetcar. The other, 4/10-penny tax is predicted to bag $300 million for transportation over five years.

In the city’s words, “The approval of the two referenda will implement high priority projects from the Connect Atlanta Plan, the city’s comprehensive transportation plan, the Atlanta Streetcar System Plan, and Concept3, the Atlanta region’s transit plan, and more than a dozen neighborhood and community plans that have been adopted in the last six years.”

Anyhow, here’s the streetcar’s promotional flyer:

And a reminder of the route, which debuted almost two years ago: