Atlanta’s initial modern streetcar line went into service yesterday. It marks the first time for streetcar operations in Georgia’s capital city since service was phased out in 1949.
The $90 million project, which relied upon $47 million from TIGER II funding, has a similar system design as Cincinnati’s system, but utilizes different rolling stock. In Atlanta, transit officials opted to award a $17.2 million contract for four vehicles to Siemens. Like Cincinnati, however, the vehicles are capable of expanded capacity more akin to light rail trains in use around North America.
The reason for such planning is that this streetcar segment is seen as the first part of a much larger network that folds into the comprehensive Atlanta BeltLine project. As part of that, planners anticipate building a 63-mile network of modern streetcars throughout the heart of the 448,000-person city.
City leaders, civic boosters and transit officials gathered in downtown Atlanta yesterday to celebrate the occasion. Paige Malott, an UrbanCincy contributor, was there to capture the scene and reported capacity crowds on the initial trains in operation.
“First ride inside the Atlanta Streetcar, and it is standing room only,” Malott wrote. “It is at capacity with 150 riders; super smooth ride!”
The 2.7-mile route is notably smaller than Cincinnati’s initial $148 million segment, which is 3.6 miles and features 17 stations, and is planned to average 15-minute headways.
Starting at Centennial Olympic Park and ending in the King Historic District, the initial features 12 stations and is envisioned to connect people to a slew of attractions spread throughout the center city, while also spurring redevelopment on the southeast edge of the central business district.
Like Cincinnati, the City of Atlanta is the owner of the project while MARTA oversees its operations. The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District is also a part-owner.
In addition to Atlanta, Washington D.C. will open their initial $137 million, 2.4-mile-long modern streetcar line in the coming days.