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:
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 (48 km) north of Atlanta, in Alpharetta. They were delivered in the first months of 2014 and are numbered 1001–1004.
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.
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.
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 (48 km) 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:
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.
By June 2018, MARTA agreed to take control and ownership of the streetcar; the route is planned to 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.
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, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, State Farm Arena and World of Coca-Cola|
|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.
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