Operating Contractor to be Hired
The Atlanta Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV, reports that the City now plans to hire a private operator for its 2.7-mile modern streetcar line to run the starter route under management contract.
The announcement came days before the State Department of Transportation’s deadline for the city to fix safety issues or face a system wide shutdown.
Officials from the city’s Contract Compliance office met with industry leaders and an official Request For Proposals (RFP) for a private contractor to run the system could go out within days.
When service began on the 2.7 mile loop from Martin Luther King Center to Centennial Park, the Atlanta Streetcar charged no ofare and carried on average 74,000 people every month.
When the city began charging a dollar during the first four months this year, ridership was cut in half to some 32,000 a month. The system's annnual budget is nearly 5 million dollars. City Councillor Felicia Moore expects that ridership numbers will not grow until the line is extended to serve more traffic generators.
Long View Urged
The AGC.com site reports that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed suggested that streetcar critics remain calm and “take the long view.”
His comments came as the city and MARTA faced a deadline to fix a list of problems with the system which could lead to a state shutdown if not addressed.
“The streetcar is always a long-term play. The streetcar is always a linchpin,” said Reed. “It’s part of a line. It’s not a train to nowhere, it’s a train for future lines. And you’re going to see some pretty big announcements that’s going to push back on the notion of a streetcar that’s going nowhere.”
The city voted to approve a referendum that would raise the city sales tax by a half-cent to raise $2.5 million for transit that among other things could help pay for an extension of the streetcar to the future Atlanta Beltline circumferential light rail route.
MARTA leaders also suggested that future extensions would include dedicated lanes for the streetcar to speed operation.
On June 28, the Georgia Department of Transportation withdrew their threat of closing the streetcar system, citing the progress the city had made addressing the list of problems.