Atlanta’s top government official dropped a bombshell on television last night: MARTA will take control of the city’s beleaguered but improving streetcar system.
Mayor Kasim Reed told 11Alive news that MARTA will soon take the reins on the Atlanta Streetcar, which operates a 2.7-mile downtown loop with a web of expansions planned across the city in coming years.
Under the city’s control, the streetcar has cleared up a host of operational concerns outlined by the Georgia Department of Transportation and notched six months without an incident or accident, per Hizzoner.
GDOT had cited 66 issues and safety concerns in a 2015 audit, marking the nascent system’s nadir.
But now, the streetcar will be absorbed into MARTA and will tap into the transit agency’s planned $2.6 billion expansion, funded by additional sales taxes Atlanta voters overwhelmingly approved in November.
“I think the Atlanta Streetcar, longterm, is going to be a terrific investment,” Reed told the station.
Reed confidently said the streetcar’s next stop will be the Beltline, though he didn’t specify when or exactly where that connection will occur.
And free streetcar rides could be coming back.
“I think that we will be shifting toward it being free,” Reed told the station. “We’re just trying to figure out the right timing for that.” In peer cities, Reed said, streetcars are used more as tools of economic stimulation than for-profit transit systems.
Fox 5 Atlanta reports that Reed hopes to see the streetcar system transferred to MARTA within two months.