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Riding New Atlanta's Streetcar for a Week: a Commuter's Diary

The debate about the effectiveness of streetcars as an alternative form of transportation (rather than just a driver of property values) isn't going anywhere. The latest test case for the ongoing experiment: Atlanta.
January 21, 2015, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Rebecca Burns asks one of urbanism's burning questions: "Is the streetcar a practical option for people who live and work within walking distance of its 12 stops?" The streetcar in question is Atlanta's—opened earlier this year to much fanfare and debate regarding the merits of streetcars as a transit system.

Burns begins by acknowledging the benefits of the system to out-of-town tourists and "local tourists" alike, before embarking on a daily journal of a commute between home and office in the early days of the streetcar's operation. For the record, Burns says the commute can be done at a brisk walk in 35 minutes or anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes in a car.

The diary recounts such vital statistics as how many other commuters are on the streetcar, how many tweets she posted while onboard, and how many minutes the trip took. The diary totals a week of trips, a number of frustrating episodes as well as some pleasant moments, and an ambivalent conclusion about the possibility that the streetcar is a suitable alternative for commuters.

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Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 in Atlanta
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