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REVEALED: Photo sneak peek of Atlanta Streetcar

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REVEALED: Photo sneak peek of Atlanta Streetcar

Streetcar to connect Centennial Olympic Park area to the Martin Luther King Jr. historic site.

Mayor Kasim Reed revealed a sneak peek of the Atlanta Streetcar Thursday at the annual meeting for the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

The Atlanta Streetcar project purchased four Siemens S70 vehicles which are being assembled in Sacramento, CA with its propulsion system being manufactured in metro-Atlanta.

Branding for the vehicle was designed by Atlanta firms Bigelow Advertising and Jones-Worley.

Currently, track is being installed along Edgewood Avenue and passenger service will begin in 2014.

To keep up with the streetcar's progress, follow the project on Twitter (@ATLStreetcar) and Facebook, and visit

[colored_box color="red"]What are your initial thoughts of the streetcar's design? Tell us in the comments![/colored_box]

Caleb J. Spivak
Caleb Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak (CJS) is the Founder of What Now Atlanta (WNA). He was featured in The New York Times, Creative Loafing's "20 People to Watch," named "Lifestyle Blogger You Need To Know" by Rolling Out Magazine and highlighted as Atlanta's Metropolitan Male in fashion magazine, 944. WNA has been named "Best of Atlanta" by Creative Loafing, and Atlanta and Jezebel Magazines.

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43 responses to “REVEALED: Photo sneak peek of Atlanta Streetcar

    1. Well lets see... the opportunity cost of NOT doing anything we know, but the cost of investment vs. what the returns will be once the system is up and running, with shops opening alongside the tracks, with people riding the cars, with tourist exploring the other side of the interstate, we don't know...

      but we can pretty much guess that it will be incredible more worthwhile once it's running...

      also, saying "the whole thing is a complete waste of money" is like saying "guns don't kill people"

      1. Well that was articulate..."But we can pretty much guess that it will be incredible more worthwhile". So is that how you make investment decisions, by guessing?

        In addition to providing quite possibly the worst argument I've ever read from a logical standpoint, you completely miss the point. This links two areas of the city that are completely dead (save for sporadic events like a Falcons game). It doesn't address the transportation problem in the city, and it doesn't provide any enhancement in mobility for residents of the city who want to do things like commute to and from work, rather than drive. It's a fancy idea with pretty pictures, and no basis for success. It's like saying "I want to improve the way my front yard looks" and then going behind your house and killing a few the end a waste of time and resources that do nothing to fix the problem.

        1. By showing your ignorance with the statement that Centennial Olympic Park and the Old 4th Ward are "completely dead" you've shot your credibility. I would say that the area around the park attracts more people to one place, that isn't an office tower, on a daily basis than anywhere else in the region. The Edgewood corridor is the heart of O4W, which is one of the hottest intown neighborhoods (see 1000s of apartment units going up). Therefore, it will actually connect two of the the most active areas of downtown.

  1. The streetcar is going to revitalize a blighted area while offering tourists (and locals!) an easy way to travel between two popular attractions. I don't think most Atlantans know how popular the MLK Center is with tourists. The area is PACKED in the summer, especially, from people all over the world.

    1. I agree -- I don't think many Altantans know how popular that MLK historic district is with international tourists in particular. I live downtown and get to see them regularly, in awkwardly-parked tour buses. This will be a much better way for them to get to the King Center. And it'll also be a great tool for conventioneers, GSU students, office workers and residents when it comes to the streetcar's ability to revitalize an area that's too sad or sketchy to walk through in spots.

      For my daily life downtown, I'm most looking forward to seeing that area under the interstate overpass get better use and become less of a dump for litter. And new sidewalks and bike lanes on that Auburn/Edgewood corridor will be great to have.

      I like the train design. It's modern enough to say "this isn't just a tourist toy -- this is a real train that moves downtown into the future."

    2. I live just a few blocks from the MLK center and all year long that place is really busy. People walking up and down the street to see all the original houses fills the sidewalks. The guided tour tickets are timed and handed out first thing in the morning regularly sell out. At first when I first moved here I thought "what a waste" too, until I spent some time around there and really saw the large groups of tourists (always large tour busses) and locals.

  2. I don't think it's a complete waste of money but I don't think it's going to be a smashing success from the get-go. The original route was much better. Hopefully once it is expanded it will be more useful to more people.

  3. To all of the naysayers-- many said the same thing about the Beltline-- The first completed trail (Eastside) and major Park (Old Fourth Ward) is producing billions of dollars in development and over 2,000 new housing units in what were once poor industrial areas. Signs of new life are already staring to appear on Edgewood, despite the disruptions caused by construction.

  4. I live in this neighborhood, and it's not as busy you make it out to be. I would rather the government spend the money on education so kids don't grow up saying "burfday" or "where do you stay?" I would almost bet Martin Luther King would agree.

    1. If you live in this neighborhood and haven't seen the big bus loads of tourists at the King Center, I'm not sure what the deal is. They exist. I'll take some photos of them this weekend if I get a chance.

      Government can spend money on both education and transit. The TIGER grant money was available only for transit, not education. It was going to go to some other transit project in the US if it hadn't gone to Atlanta. It's not like you can take that grant money and spend it on schools instead.

      1. What's your point Darin? Are you saying $2.6 billion is great, good, just okay? A modern, useful, and secure MARTA would certainly double those numbers. MARTA rail footprint has remained mostly unchanged for 30 years. It is useful to small, select portion of Atlanta residents. And security is so poor, once where I felt comfortable riding the train to/from the airport or Phillip Arena/GA Dome, now I would only do as an act of desperation. Money would have been much better spent increasing MARTA security and rail coverage. As evidence the project was poorly planned and ill-conceived is that the design of the streetcar route doesn't even intersect or come close to MARTA rail.

        1. RE: "Money would have been much better spent increasing MARTA security and rail coverage"

          I would love to see money for both increasing security and extending MARTA. I think both are important. My point is that the federal funding came from a grant specifically for the kind of project we have with the streetcar. The local money we put in would not have put a dent in the expense necessary to extend heavy rail, unfortunately.

          RE: "the design of the streetcar route doesn’t even intersect or come close to MARTA rail."

          The streetcar runs directly past the Peachtree Center MARTA station.

  5. Exciting news!! I hope this is the beginning of many mass transit projects. Naysayers....stay in Alpharetta and Cobb County. We don't want or need you in OUR city.

    1. Yikes. YOUR city? It's their money as well. They should have some say in it.

      Or, better yet just stop using their money for these things in YOUR city. I imagine you're willing to chip in some more to make up for lost revenue?

    2. Bill, there are plenty of naysayers in the city of Atlanta. They are naysayers because they realize how illogical this is in the context of the greater transportation issue in Atlanta. They're mostly people who understand urban development...not small town transplants that think they've elevated themselves above "hickdom" because they moved to the big city of Atlanta.

  6. What does this accomplish that a bus route doesn't?

    A bus route, dedicated bus lanes, increased frequency, etc. could have been accomplished for less cost than what the local govt. has spent on this federally pushed boondoggle. AND it could be easily moved when/if it's seen as a failure.

    1. What good would it do to increase frequency of buses in an Aubrun/Edgewood corridor that has so many empty spaces and abandoned buildings?

      Buses don't have a history of revitalizing blighted areas. Streetcars do. Portland, downtown Phoenix and more have had success with this method, with growth following streetcar lines. Will it work on this route in Atlanta? We'll see. I think the chances are good.

          1. Citing the CATO institute as a reputable resource is laughable. They have been known to be very anti-transit in many regards.

            1. "They have been known to be very anti-transit in many regards."

              Many economic think-tanks are against it. There might be a reason for that...

                1. I imagine whichever I cite you'll claim as biased, since they don't agree with your opinion (which you haven't bothered to find anything supporting your claims). Mercatus, FEE, AEI, etc. (I even had trouble finding PRO-streetcar research at Brookings)

                  So I'll look at other reasons to avoid it:
                  And the plethora of articles about the complete failure of funding the Cincy streetcars.

            2. CATO's position isn't anti-transit, it is anti-streetcar. They generally advocate for busses instead of streetcars. They bring up very good fact-based points about the Portland case and the industry that has risen from it. I'd really like to hear an educated rebuttal instead of an ad-homeniem dismissal of their work.

    2. Name one developer who has invested because of a bus route. They're too impermanent for an investor to want to develop a transit-oriented project when a streetcar is an obvious infrastructure investment with a sense of permanence. Bus lines are the first operations to be cut during budget constraints- which often includes route realignments and reschedules. A streetcar is not going to be simply realigned to make budget cuts.

      1. "Name one developer who has invested because of a bus route."

        (There are plenty, but I'll play along.)

        You're correct, but you've missed my point. What developer has invested because of a streetcar line? They invest because the tax advantages. Portland has shown that pretty clearly (no direct line to causation, but plenty or correlation say so). Development along their streetcar line stops once the tax incentives stop.

        The bus lines that are cut are often cut because they aren't popular. Unpopular streetcars cannot be cut. And an unpopular streetcar does NOTHING for those along its route.

        Give tax incentives if you must. Put a bus line in, if you must. If the area succeeds, then great! If it doesn't, move the bus. The streetcar just gives politicians a reason to throw good money after bad, because they've made this investment and can't let it waste away (when they'd be better off just cutting their losses and using something less antiquated).

        1. You still haven't named any developers - so you're missing your own point.

          You're lacking the insight to understand that the streetcar project wasn't purely to lure in economic development. If transit alone was going to bring in developments why hasn't every transit station been developed into walkable, transit-oriented communities (and I'm not talking about MARTA alone? The incentives (or lack thereof) alone at many of the outer MARTA stations didn't promote smart-growth development, and so the best land use that prevails are the "park and ride" lots prevalent on the outer reaches of the system. Only now is MARTA and other entities looking to incentivize developments in key station areas. You have to approach development as a multi-pronged approach of incentives.

          Take Ponce City Market for example - sure the Beltline alone as a linear park was a big advantage for that location, also the future transit line that runs adjacent to the property were huge factors to lure Jamestown to redevelop the old Sears Building, but there were many other factors, incentives as well that were a part of the larger project deal that came together. Large-scale projects and developments aren't going to happen if a city isn't willing to invest in building a cache of infrastructure investments.

          Singling out a public investment as a singular economic driver is shortsighted as the Streetcar project is more than just a "ride to nowhere".

          The streetcar project was envisioned as a larger part of a plan to provide incentives for reinvestments in areas around Atlanta- especially this area of downtown. There's already commitments from Invest Atlanta to study the next expansion so that future funding sources are at closer reach for a more effective streetcar network.

          1. The outer MARTA stations that exist are virtually useless because they weren't developed in the context of (a) any real existing urban infrastructure and (b) don't exist as part of a greater transit system that provides readily available access to a host of various areas. Transit systems that have been developed in this manner have operated as failures, not because development doesn't follow transit, but because building transit for the sake of building transit is just one big waste of money (much like the streetcar). There's no incentive for anyone to ride Marta from the burbs, unless they're going to the airport or a Falcons game. Much like there won't be any incentive to ride the streetcar unless you're going from a Falcons game to the King Memorial, or Georgia State to a bar. Meanwhile, heavily trafficked corridors of the city, that have no access to public transit continue to starve.

            But I'm sure the next "study" will address that....i won't hold my breath

  7. This is stupid. It will fail, just like Marta. I can think of a hundred other ways this money could have been put to good use. What a shame

    1. A UGA study last year found that "MARTA is responsible for about $2.6 billion in economic activity every year and supports roughly 24,000 jobs" across the state. MARTA accomplishes this without state support for operations -- and while being used as a political football by state legislators.

      We'll be lucky if the streetcar "fails" like MARTA.

    2. It will fail "like MARTA"????? Please, enlighten us about how MARTA has failed? The train worked just fine for me and thousands of others this morning. As did the buses.

    3. I can think of a hundred other good uses the money spent to pave the roadways to your house in the suburbs could have been better used.

  8. Obviously, it will depend on who is riding the streetcar as to its success. If it gets taken over by a thug element who are loud, intimidating, and inconsiderate then tourists and others will not ride it. I hope it works.

  9. I'm getting sick of all this Atlanta hype, it's really getting old. Everywhere I turn or go someone is talking about Atlanta or talking about building some museum or some entertainment building in Atlanta trying to make Atlanta the best city in the US. Atlanta is so overrated and overhyped. People are getting ridiculous over Atlanta and it's getting worse with all these Atlanta based reality tv shows etc and all this talk about Georgia being one of the top states for just about everything from colleges and universities to businesses and movie and film production. It's really getting ridiculous.

  10. From the little we can see, it looks very sleek. I am more excited about the project itself than the car's design. Can't wait to ride it next year!

  11. april jones take your miserable butt,home. Do not continue to live here and hate on the ATL.GO BACK TO THE DUMP YOU CAME FROM!

  12. Ah, well now I feel bad for cursing the construction down on Edgewood that is ruining my tires. Seriously, though, now that I know what they are doing to the streets down there, I do feel a bit better about the bit of inconvenience. This too shall pass.

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