Expansion Planned for Atlanta Streetcar

A proposed expansion of Atlanta's beleaguered downtown streetcar could turn the 'novelty' line into a truly useful transportation option in the car-centric city.

1 minute read

December 22, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Atlanta streetcar

Central Atlanta Progress: Lauren Holley / Flickr

Josh Green reports on expansion plans for Atlanta's downtown streetcar, which, in its current 2.7-mile incarnation, only receives around 4,000 weekly rides and primarily serves tourists and the occasional sports fans. To put that number in perspective, writes Green, MARTA's heavy rail system saw close to 300,000 weekly rides in 2021, a number dramatically reduced from prior years by the pandemic. 

While some see the streetcar, which opened in 2015, as a waste of taxpayer money, others want to see it expanded and connected to more areas. That's the plan for MARTA, which plans to expand the streetcar loop to the city's east side and "finally transform it from a tourist-supported novelty to a useful, local transportation option." The $225-million expansion will be funded by the More MARTA sales tax and connect the current line to the BeltLine and the Old Fourth Ward retail hub.

Earlier this year, MARTA's board authorized a feasibility study to assess the potential for extending the streetcar into the BeltLine corridor in preparation for requesting federal funding for the project.

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