The Atlanta Streetcar began operation in 2012 and is accessible in the Downtown Atlanta area. Many find it very useful for sightseeing. However, MARTA found is its competition. The two transportation systems barely compare, though, because ridership decreased for the Atlanta Streetcar. Nonetheless, the Streetcar is beneficial to those that want a free ride throughout the city. Although, the Atlanta Streetcar costs, it is not enforced for riders.
Today, there are twelve Atlanta Streetcar stops and they are all located in Downtown Atlanta. The Peachtree Center stop is the only MARTA connector, meaning it is a streetcar stop, while it is also located directly outside of the MARTA train station on Peachtree Street. Between this stop and the Carnegie at Spring stop are several MARTA bus stops. Around four or five Atlanta Streetcar stops are located on Georgia State University’s campus. These stops are can be found near campus housing and parks near the buildings, where classes are held. I most commonly use the Auburn at Piedmont stop to drop me off at the Centennial Olympic Park, which is four stops away. At Centennial Park, I usually study or relax during between classes or whenever I a have free time. To catch the next streetcar to return me to campus, I use Atlanta Streetcar app, which lists the schedule for the streetcar and its estimated arrival of at each stop. At the Sweet Auburn Market stop, actually located on Edgewood Avenue, ironically, is outside of the Municipal Market, which sells food from all over the world and delicious, fresh fruit. At the King Historic District stop, riders notice many old buildings, one of which was used as a voting precinct in the most recent presidential election. A few stops before, at the Hurt Park stop, located closest to the Georgia State University MARTA station, is directly in the middle of Georgia State’s campus. This stop is probably most convenient to students traveling from classes, besides the Woodruff Park stop, which is also fairly close to the buildings, which hold classes for Georgia State students. All in all, there are many stops in the route for the Atlanta Streetcar, but there are still not enough to meet the needs of all Atlanta residents in need of transportation. Although some people find the streetcar to be problematic, the streetcar struggles to find funding to expand its operations.
The Streetcar began operating with a free fare and unfortunately, the price for riders increased to one dollar per ride over the course of three years, causing ridership to decrease drastically. The Atlanta Streetcar company has found this to be problematic, because they can no longer receive the funds that they thought would become available to cover operation costs.
Differently, some riders, both Atlanta residents and non-U.S. citizens find the Streetcar to be useful and worthy of their one-dollar fare.
Oftentimes, riders pay at the ticket machine, located at each streetcar stop, which chargers one dollar per rider. These people are usually tourists and unfamiliar with the Atlanta Streetcar’s system. Others, more familiar with the Atlanta Streetcar, like myself, choose not to pay, because the fare is unenforced. However, my actions affect the operation of the streetcar drastically, because funds are needed to continue its operation. Still, only normal riders and the streetcar driver are present on each Atlanta Streetcar. So, how will paying for rides ever be enforced?
There needs to be someone at the doors of the Atlanta Streetcar collecting tickets or using an effective system to enforce the fare, which will support operation costs. Clearly, those behind the scenes of the operation of the Atlanta Streetcar are not serious about its operation; therefore, they have not taken the proper actions needed to collect funds.
The Atlanta Streetcar has changed over the course of the past five years. Initially, the Streetcar was busy and had high ridership. Today, ridership is extremely low for the Atlanta Streetcar. More people find driving their own cars or riding MARTA to be more efficient. Currently, Atlanta struggles with overpopulation, causing traffic on main roads and highways to be uncontrollable. Moreover, there are several colleges located in the Atlanta area, which is increasing the population of the city, as well. For college students, MARTA is very efficient, as it provides transportation to the local mall, Lenox Square, and other attractive places in Atlanta, such as the Civic Center and Midtown.
The Atlanta Streetcar does not make its transportation as exciting. This streetcar is most convenient for students at Georgia State University, because it travels through our campus, while those at Georgia Tech, the Atlanta University Center, and Georgia Perimeter do not have easy access to the Atlanta Streetcar. In this case, MARTA wins again.
More importantly, as Atlanta faces issues with our most recent conflict, rebuilding a large bridge, due to a fire, and a few other repairs along the highway, people find it less convenient to drive their cars in and out of the city. For these people, they may live in areas, such as Doraville, Sandy Springs, or College Park, where they don’t necessarily need to drive because MARTA stations are close them. All in all, The Atlanta Streetcar must expand its horizons, by adding more stops to its route, in order to increase ridership and offer locals another form of transportation, which will eventually help them to cover operation costs.
In Downtown Atlanta, specifically, the Atlanta Streetcar has the least amount of support regarding transportation, due to safety issues. Bikers near Edgewood Avenue and Woodruff Park have found the Atlanta Streetcar to be an inconvenience to them. The Atlanta Streetcar’s route has led to a few accidents with bikers. This is also an issue for college students, as many Georgia State students enjoy bike riding and skateboarding between classes, if not walking. Recently, no accidents have been reported, so an improvement is being made.
The Atlanta Streetcar isn’t all bad, though. There have been no findings that it is harmful to the environment nor is it of danger to any individuals, besides bikers. The Streetcar welcomes all ages and races, as many tourists from outside of Atlanta and outside of the United States have found it to be a comfortable way to travel when exploring the city. Nonetheless, there are streetcars in other U.S. cities that have a better operating system than the Atlanta Streetcar. These streetcars may be more successful, because fare is enforced.
MARTA may have more ridership, but another Georgia State, Turner, will agree that the Atlanta Streetcar is safer and more clean. Although the streetcar and MARTA trains both operate during almost the same hours, many locals will also find that the streetcar is more safe. MARTA stations are usually dark, no matter what time of day and often cause riders to lose phone service. In case of an emergency in a MARTA train station, one will not be able to contact anyone, but on the streetcar, service is always available. Arguably, critics will state that this all depends on the service provider; however, it is found that because majority of its riders lack phone service, MARTA began planning to receive Wi-Fi access in its tunnels and stations. I am not certain that this has been approved at any MARTA stations, yet, but from personal experience, I have not witnessed it, thus far.
Moreover, people often witness homelessness at MARTA stations. This is viewed as unsafe to those that do choose to use the trains at late hours, or sometimes any time during the day, due to the instability of those that live on the grounds outside of the stations. For instance, the Five Points MARTA station attracts homeless people, causing the area to look progressively worse than it already does, due to the amount of homeless people that are already in the area.
Compared to other streetcars in this country, the Atlanta Streetcar has some work to do. Differently, the Atlanta Streetcar began operating almost five years ago and is still considered very young to the others. For instance, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the streetcar has began operating over twenty years ago and has over twenty stops. Similar to MARTA, the New Orleans streetcar has colored lines, meaning it has multiple streetcars, adding up to five routes. This streetcar seems to be very developed and popular, which shows through the amount of stops it has. Similarly, the San Francisco streetcar has several stops and multiple routes. Unfortunately, San Francisco has experienced a decline in ridership, as well. They have found this issue to be due to a decline in gas prices; therefore, people in san Francisco find it more convenient to drive rather than rely on the streetcars, as they have in the past. There are other streetcars in this country, including the Washington, D.C. Streetcar that has recently began operating, but is still not as efficient to Washingtonians as the Metro trains and buses. In sum, there are several streetcars throughout this country that operate in their own unique ways and as the years go on, the Atlanta Streetcar will hopefully reach its own level of success and be able to satisfy the needs of more Atlanta residents.
Clearly, several issues exist with the Atlanta Streetcar, so action needs to take place to improve it. Some may find that making the Streetcar free again would increase ridership, but technically, it’s still free today and if it did increase ridership, the operation costs will still be uncovered. A few options to cover these costs are to reach out to sponsors, accept donations, and/or create a campaign to encourage Atlanta residents to support the Streetcar better.