The city of Atlanta’s $98 million initiative to bring electric streetcars back to the city is now finally starting to bear fruit, with the first section of a possible city-wide network now open to the public.
This small loop of an electric streetcar system opened just a few days ago, on December 30th, but is well worth taking note of, as this is the first time that a streetcar has operated in Atlanta since all the way back in 1949. Back in early 20th century the streetcar was so popular that, apparently, even the mayor of the city would ride it to work.
While the streetcar line is, as of yet, probably more just a curiosity for most people living in the city, there’s talk of the system being expanded to include and encompass economically important portions of the city, including: the primary retail district area, Piedmont Park; the Georgia Institute of Technology; the Atlanta University Center; and/or notable tourist destinations, such as the Fox Theater and the High Museum of Art.
Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, has previously stated his intent to improve the service after the initial opening, via the reduction of wait times (more stock presumably) and the expansion of the area served.
The reason for the opening of the project as it is now, consisting of a rather limited line, is owing to the delays that the project has seen, and issues of public confidence. As he stated recently: “The first thing that we had to do, really, was to get the streetcar up and running because the delays were shaking the confidence in the project, and we needed to put that to bed.”
Given the history of streetcars in this country, I must admit to being quite happy to see them begin to make something of a (very limited so far) comeback. Rather than destroying them in the first place and then rebuilding a half-century later, it would certainly have been better just to keep them in service the whole time (as in Melbourne, Australia).
Rebuilding is certainly better than not doing so, imo. Still, it’s so damned expensive as compared to simply keeping and maintaining them after the initial construction. I guess that the car lobbies were just too strong at the time, though, something that appears to now be changing.
Worth noting is that one-way fares are only a buck a piece. Not a bad price at all. You can find out more at the website.
Image Credit: Atlanta StreetCar
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