A streetcar in service near the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
|Locale||Atlanta, Georgia, United States|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||12|
|Daily ridership||1,200 (Q3 2017)|
|Began operation||December 30, 2014|
|Number of vehicles||4 Siemens S70s|
|Train length||1 car|
|Headway||15 minutes (planned avg.)|
|System length||2.7 mi (4.3 km)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC Overhead wires|
The Downtown Loop is the Phase 1 of the Atlanta Streetcar project, which is planning to expand onto the BeltLine surrounding central Atlanta. It was planned to start service in late spring of 2014, but was delayed. Testing on the line began in summer 2014 with passenger service beginning as scheduled on December 30, 2014.
The project is the first regular passenger streetcar service in Atlanta since the original Atlanta streetcars were phased out in 1949.
The Downtown Loop runs 2.7 miles (4.3 km) east-west, serving 12 stops, from Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, with tracks that converge at Woodruff Park. The route provides access to MARTA heavy rail lines at Peachtree Center. The vehicle maintenance facility is located under the I-75/I-85 overpass on Edgewood Ave.
The exact route is:
- From the King Historic Site at Jackson St. and Auburn Ave., westbound along Auburn Ave. to Peachtree St.
- North on Peachtree St., stopping at Peachtree Center MARTA station, to Ellis St.
- West on Ellis St. to Carnegie Way
- Northwest on Carnegie Way to Andrew Young International Blvd.
- West on Andrew Young International Blvd. to Centennial Olympic Park Dr.
- South on Centennial Olympic Park Dr. to Luckie St.
- Southeast on Luckie St., crossing Peachtree St. to Park Place.
- South on Park Place to Edgewood Ave.
- East on Edgewood Ave. to Jackson St.
- North on Jackson St. to Auburn Ave.
The Atlanta Streetcar system uses Siemens S70 light rail vehicles (LRVs). A total of four S70 cars were purchased and were built at two different facilities; the cars themselves were built in Sacramento, California while most other major components, like the propulsion system, were assembled at a plant about 30 miles north of Atlanta, in Alpharetta. They were delivered in the first months of 2014 and are numbered 1001–1004.
Atlanta Streetcar, Inc.
Atlanta Streetcar, Inc. (ASC) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to bring streetcars back to downtown Atlanta. ASC's board members include the leaders of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, MARTA, Georgia World Congress Center, Buckhead Community Improvement District, Buckhead Coalition, Underground Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, Woodruff Arts Center, and many local corporate business leaders as well.
Peachtree Corridor Partnership
In the summer of 2007, a new privately funded group called the Peachtree Corridor Partnership was formed, with the goal of determining how best to move forward the proposed rebuilding of Peachtree Street as a more attractive and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. The addition of a modern streetcar line was (and remains) one of the main components of the proposed transformation of the corridor, so many of the board members of ASC became members of the Peachtree Corridor Task Force, and the partnership eventually replaced the function of ASC as the organization advocating for a streetcar line along Peachtree Street.
In July 2009, the Atlanta city council approved funding a feasibility study to work out certain details of the proposed streetcar line in time to apply for federal economic-stimulus funds for the construction of such a line. However, several council members later expressed doubts over whether the remainder of the funding necessary to bring the project to fruition was likely, particularly during a time of recession.
Downtown Loop route funded
In September 2010, it was announced that Phase I of the Atlanta Streetcar Project had received $47 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II funding. The funding represents 8% of the overall TIGER II allotment, and will fund the construction of the downtown loop, not the Peachtree Corridor line, which is now regarded as Phase V of the project.
In May 2011, Siemens announced that it had won the $17.2 million contract to build the four streetcars that will run on the Downtown Connector line. They would be based on the company's S70 light rail vehicle platform, with the cars themselves being built in Sacramento, California, while other major components, including the propulsion system, were to be assembled at a Siemens plant about 30 miles north of Atlanta, in Alpharetta.
In February 2012, the city announced that the budget would increase from $70 million to $90 million. The city attributed the increase to:
- about $9 million to purchase newer and more expensive streetcars that could last 20 years longer than the refurbished ones that were originally planned to be purchased
- $4 million so that the Atlanta Regional Commission's Livable Centers Initiative could provide grants for sidewalk improvements and bicycle lanes.
- Additional work by the water department to move water and sewer pipes
Construction and opening
Groundbreaking for the project took place on February 1, 2012. At that time, the line was projected to open in May 2013, but various delays pushed the opening back, first to summer 2014 and later to December. The first two S70 streetcars were delivered in February 2014 and began test runs on the line in the spring.
As of June 2018[update], MARTA has agreed to take control and ownership of the streetcar, whereupon the route will be integrated into a larger MARTA light rail system. Operations were placed under the control of the newly formed Office of Light Rail Operations on July 1, 2018.
There are plans to extend the streetcar to Bankhead MARTA Station, via Luckie Street and Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy, and east to Piedmont Park. The City of Atlanta is applying for a TIGER 7 grant to extend the current loop east, 1.6 miles (2.6 km) to Irwin St and the entrance of the BeltLine. Costs are estimated at $62.7 million.
List of streetcar stations
Counter-clockwise loop between Centennial Olympic Park and King Historic District
|Centennial Olympic Park||Southbound||·Serves Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, GWCC,|
|Luckie at Cone||Eastbound||·Serves Fairlie−Poplar Historic District|
|Park Place||Southbound||·Serves Woodruff Park and Underground Atlanta (walking distance)|
|Hurt Park||Eastbound||·Serves Georgia State Capitol, Georgia State University and Hurt Park|
|Sweet Auburn Market||Eastbound||·Island side platform in middle of street|
·Serves Grady Hospital and Sweet Auburn Curb Market
|Edgewood at Hilliard||Eastbound||·In walking distance of Selena S. Butler Park|
|King Historic District||Westbound||·Intersection of Auburn and Jackson Streets|
·Serves Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Oakland Cemetery (walking distance)
|Dobbs Plaza||Westbound||·Platform located under the Downtown Connector (I-75/85)|
·Serves Dobbs Plaza and Sweet Auburn
|Auburn at Piedmont||Westbound||·Serves Calhoun Park|
|Woodruff Park||Westbound||·Serves Woodruff Park|
|Peachtree Center||Northbound||·Direct connection to MARTA rapid transit at Peachtree Center station|
·Serves Peachtree Center district
|Carnegie at Spring||Westbound||·Serves Fairlie−Poplar Historic District|
·Final stop before reaching terminus at Centennial Olympic Park stop
Since opening for service, the Atlanta Streetcar has been criticized by officials and residents for its short route, safety, poor management, and lower-than-expected ridership. Although boosters have claimed that up to $2.5 billion worth of new development can be attributed to the streetcar, independent analysis shows that many of those projects (totaling at least $323 million) pre-date it, and others—such as the College Football Hall of Fame—had not taken the streetcar into consideration. Regardless, the streetcar has contributed to at least some economic growth; for example, Southeast Capital Companies stated that it directly influenced their decision to build residential housing near Edgewood Avenue, and the Atlantic Seafood Market saw business rise 10% in the months following the start of service.
In September 2015, officials from the Federal Transit Administration expressed concerns with the system's lack of safety, poor management, and failure to comply with requirements for reporting accidents. Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed and MARTA CEO Keith Parker have laid out steps to address those issues.
On May 23, 2016, state officials sent a letter to Kasim Reed and MARTA CEO Keith Parker threatening to shut down the streetcar unless the city fixed numerous problems with it that had been outlined in multiple then-recent audits.
- Light rail in the United States
- Streetcars in North America
- Nine-Mile Circle streetcar line to Virginia Highland
- Timeline of mass transit in Atlanta
- "Transit Ridership Report Third Quarter 2017" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. November 17, 2017. Archived from the original (pdf) on April 17, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018 – via http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/ridershipreport.aspx.
- Schield, Aubrey (August 1, 2014). "What to expect on an Atlanta Streetcar ride". Atlanta Magazine. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
- Veronica Griffin (February 17, 2014). "Atlanta Streetcar makes a small detour". CBS46 News. WorldNow and WGCL-TV. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "Revenue service update". Atlanta Streetcar. June 23, 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- David Wickert (December 30, 2014). "Atlanta streetcar takes first trip". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
- Thomas Wheatley (December 23, 2014). "Atlanta Streetcar to start passenger service on Tuesday". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- Keith Laing (December 23, 2014). "Fed-supported Atlanta streetcar to open Dec. 30". The Hill. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- "Atlanta Streetcar Enters Service". Passenger Transport. American Public Transportation Association. January 9, 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
- "Atlanta meets New Year deadline: Streetcars return to the streets of Georgia after a 65-year break". Tramways & Urban Transit. UK: LRTA Publishing. February 2015. p. 53.
- "A Better Way to Get Around". Atlanta Streetcar. Archived from the original on October 29, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
- Josh Green (February 26, 2014). "How The Atlanta Streetcar Loop Looks Right Now". Curbed Atlanta. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Douglas John Bowen (May 14, 2013). "MARTA revises Atlanta streetcar contract". Railway Age. Simmons-Boardman Publishing Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Gregory Wallace (November 1, 2012). "Downtown streetcar construction on track". Atlanta INtown Paper. Springs Publishing LLC. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "Where Will the Streetcar Go?". Atlanta Streetcar. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "Fact Sheet" (PDF). Atlanta Streetcar. July 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- "Siemens to build Atlanta streetcars". Atlanta Business Chronicle. American City Business Journals. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "Siemens is supplying Atlanta with the American type S70 LRT vehicles". Siemens.com. Siemens. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
- "Worldwide Review (regular news section)". Tramways & Urban Transit. UK: LRTA Publishing. April 2014. p. 175.
- "Board of Directors". Atlanta Streetcar, Inc. Archived from the original on July 27, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2007.
- "Collaboration to build a 'destination street'". Peachtree Corridor Partnership. 2007. Archived from the original on September 14, 2009. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
- Dave Williams (July 20, 2009). "Atlanta City Council OKs streetcar study". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
- Dave Williams (October 12, 2009). "Council members question streetcar funding". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
- "TIGER's Biggest Bite: Atlanta Streetcar Proposal Gets $47 Million". Streetsblog USA. October 15, 2010.
- Jay Bookman (October 15, 2010). "Streetcar money breaks Atlanta transit losing streak". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Media Group. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
- Jeremiah McWilliams (February 1, 2012). "Atlanta kicks off streetcar construction". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Doug DeLoach (March 30, 2012). "Atlanta Streetcar design-build phase begins". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- "Atlanta streetcar breaks ground". Railway Gazette International. February 21, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- "MARTA To Take Over Atlanta Streetcar On July 1". WABE. June 6, 2018. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
- King, Michael (July 1, 2018). "MARTA officially assumes operations of Atlanta Streetcar". 11Alive. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
- "Atlanta seeks TIGER funding for streetcar connection to BeltLine". ATL Urbanist. May 27, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
- Keenan, Sean (October 5, 2018). "After Beltline transit win, More MARTA project list is officially approved". Curbed. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
- "Cling Clang Clunk? Inside the Atlanta Streetcar's first year". December 19, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "FTA sends stern letter to city, MARTA over Streetcar woes". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. September 29, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- David Wickert (May 26, 2016). "State threatens to close Atlanta streetcar". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
- Atlanta Streetcar – official website
- Peachtree Corridor Partnership homepage
- Environmental Assessment for the Atlanta Streetcar, prepared by the City of Atlanta and MARTA for the US DOT
- Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., "Citywide Briefing on Transit Implementation Strategy & Transportation Investment Act Projects", Feb 17, 2011