MARTA cleared a key hurdle this week in its quest to absorb the embattled but improving Atlanta Streetcar into its network.
The Atlanta City Council approved on Monday an ordinance that transfers all operations (and assets) of the streetcar system to MARTA, a move Mayor Kasim Reed had announced would happen—to the delighted surprise of many—in June.
What’s next? Per city officials, the mayor is now authorized to transfer all streetcar facets—including “all operational, staffing, planning, maintenance, employee, fare, service level and related functions”—from the City of Atlanta to MARTA over the course of the next year.
For now, the streetcar consists of a 2.7-mile downtown loop, but a web of expansions is planned across the city in coming years.
Reed told media in June the streetcar’s next destination would be the Beltline, though he didn’t specify when or exactly where that connection will occur.
What’s more, he said free streetcar rides would be making a comeback. Eventually.
Under the city’s control, the streetcar has cleared up a host of operational concerns outlined by the Georgia Department of Transportation and, as of June, had notched six months without an incident or accident. The AJC reported in April the system was also enjoying a 10-percent ridership boost this year.
As part of MARTA, the streetcar system will tap into the transit agency’s planned $2.6-billion expansion, funded by additional sales taxes Atlanta voters overwhelmingly approved in November, officials have said.