Atlanta — Testing Begins
Atlanta's 2.7-mile modern streetcar line began test runs early on Saturday, August 15 with one of the Siemens S70 units being towed to check clearances. Runs powered by the 750v DC trolley wire will be next, WXIA television reports. It revealed the first three months of public service will be free of fares to build ridership. The downtown car line between Olympic Centennial Park and the Martin Luther King, Jr. visitor attraction is expected to debut to riders by the end of 2014.
The trial run began at midnight on Saturday. It was expected to move slowly, and take until 5 a.m. to complete the test. "This is going to be the first time the streetcar is out on the alignment," explained streetcar spokesperson Sharon Gavin, "To make sure everything is fitting the way it's supposed to throughout the alignment." Next up is a powered test, followed by driver training test runs.
A remaining question is ridership. Some critics have suggested this streetcar is for tourists – and may have empty seats at the cost of taxpayers.
Atlanta city tax dollars are now helping fund the delayed street car project.
The Atlanta City Council approved $1 million a year to support the light rail system. The majority of the project is being paid for by a federal grant, but the city will now contribute these operating funds.
Fare revenue is not projected for a few months. The first three months riding will be free of charge to help build business by encouraging riders to try the city's four streetcars.