ATLANTA — MARTA, the regional transportation system, will oversee and operate the new Atlanta streetcar for the first year, and the city will assume operations afterwards.
The streetcar, expected to begin operations in August, is expected to cost $3.9 million to operate and maintain in its first year of operation.
The 2.7-mile streetcar line was to open this spring, but has been delayed by construction and a question over who precisely will operate the line. Previously, officials indicated MARTA would not operate the new streetcar.
“The Atlanta Streetcar is a transformational project that will have a significant impact on Atlantan’s mobility and the economic vitality of the city,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement.
“This operational approach leverages the expertise of MARTA and the City’s growing technical capacity, which has been acknowledged through the City’s recently awarded FTA Grantee Status,” Reed added. “I’m confident that this approach will give Atlanta the best run, safest and most cost-efficient system in the country.”
When it opens, city officials believe the streetcar will ferry tourists to and from many of the city’s popular downtown attractions, including Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Georgia Aquarium. The new streetcar line, expected to have 12 stops and four electric streetcars, will be the first in Atlanta in more than 60 years.
Future plans call for the new streetcar to tie into the Atlanta BeltLine, a public-private partnership that is building walking paths along a ring of mostly abandoned railroad right-of-ways that circle the city. Streetcars, once prominent fixtures on the city’s streets, last ran in Atlanta in 1949.
City officials believe the MARTA-city agreement will save $5 million in the first five years of the streetcar’s operation.