Courtesy Atlanta Streetcar

MARTA will assume ownership and day-to-day operations of the Atlanta Streetcar from the City of Atlanta on July 1.

A media statement released this morning erroneously stated that rides on the streetcar would be free once MARTA took ownership, but officials walked back this announcement in a followup email stating “The MARTA Board of Directors will make a final determination on fare.”

According to the statement, the four-car light rail system will be integrated into MARTA operations and its new Office of Light Rail Operations. This office will handle all daily operations, maintenance, and technical inspections. Communications, human resources, and policing, as well as other support services, will be provided by staff within current MARTA departments.

“As MARTA looks at ways to provide more and better transit options, the streetcar presents an opportunity to expand with light rail,” said MARTA Chief Operating Officer Rich Krisak. “Multi-modal transportation is what we do at MARTA and this addition to our rail fleet will offer another safe and convenient mode of travel to people moving through the downtown area.”

MARTA is currently focused on four transition objectives: enhancing safety and security on the streetcar, increasing ridership, reducing operating costs, and system integration.

According to the statement, the streetcar’s 2.7-mile circular route presents an opportunity for MARTA to provide last-mile connectivity to riders, aligning rail schedules so commuters can use the streetcar for the last leg of their trip. The transition will also allow the streetcar to be integrated into the area’s larger transportation system which received a boost this legislative session with the passage of House Bill 930.

The streetcar’s operating budget will be underwritten by More MARTA, the 2016 half-penny sales tax referendum.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.