First Streetcar Delivered
The first of four Siemens S70 modern streetcars was delivered to Atlanta on February 17 and was unloaded from a highway trailer at the new carhouse, WGCL television reported. A second S70 was due to be delivered from the Sacramento factory a day later. The Atlanta units are duplicates of the Salt Lake City Sugar House line streetcars using slower speed gearing and having no multiple-unit couplers than their light rail bretheren. Streetcar service is planned to begin this spring or summer.
Startup Delayed and Costs Rise
Though construction of Atlanta's 2.7-mile $100 million streetcar system is moving along nicely, the choice of who will operate the system has not yet been made and likely will delay opening of the line until summer.
When federal funding for the project was awarded in 2010, annual operating costs were estimated to be $1.7 million. Now, as the city is considering options for contracting operations, estimates push operating costs to at least twice as much as forecast. The optionis are:
- $4.56 million for operations contractor RATP Dev McDonald
- $4.24 million for MARTA
- $3.38 million for the city to operate the line with its own staff
The process of selecting one of the three and then getting them in place is what will likely delay operning of the line until midyear.
The option of running the system in-house is being considered seriously, not just because it offers the lowest estimate cost. The city’s streetcar director, Tim Borchers, has 30 years of experience in streetcar systems, including running Tampa's new streetcar system. His staff of 11, including consultants, gives the city equivalent expertise to what a third-party vendor would offer.
Initial construction estimates were for $69 million but now are estimated to approach $100 million, mainly because of escalating utility relocation costs.