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Atlanta Streetcar Rider Makes Recommendations For New Service

Atlanta Magazine deputy editor Rebecca Burns spent eight weeks riding the tram from her Cabbagetown home to her office near Peachtree Center.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
Audio version of this story here.

Atlanta’s newest mode of mass transit makes its daily trek along an almost three mile loop of the city, carrying residents to jobs and tourists to city attractions.

The Atlanta Streetcar has been running for just a few months now, rolling out on Dec. 20, 2014, at a cost of $98 million. It connects the city’s historic King District with Centennial Olympic Park.

Atlanta Magazine deputy editor Rebecca Burns spent eight weeks riding the tram from her Cabbagetown home to her office near Peachtree Center.

She wrote about riding the trolley and came up with a set of six recommendations for making it a better experience for riders.

She talked with WABE’s ”A Closer Look” on Wednesday.

Here’s what Burns discovered and what she thinks Atlanta transits officials should do:

1. ”Run the cars more frequently”

Burns found out she could make it to her destination ahead of the streetcar by walking. The streetcar is scheduled to run every 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the number of riders and traffic conditions, according to the Atlanta Streetcar website.

2. ”Long waits at some trolley stops”

Burns says while riding the trolley, she experienced up to 15 minute delays at Centennial Olympic Park, making it impossible to get to her destinations on time. Again, the Atlanta Streetcar website states the timing of the transport trolley is based on the number of riders and road conditions.

3. “Keep it free through early summer”

Riders can currently hop the tram for free, but that is scheduled to end in April. Burns thinks the city should keep the trolley free through early summer. She thinks the nice weather and spring break in April would help increase ridership on the tram. When the fare kicks in, it will cost adults $1 for a one way ticket. 

4. ”Keep it free for MARTA monthly card holders… forever.”

Burns says the streetcar fare system should be integrated with MARTA’s Breeze Card.

5. ”Keep ambassadors on the cars”

Members of Atlanta’s Ambassador Force currently ride the streetcar, acting as greeters for commuters. Burns says their presence contributes a sense of comfort and safety for riders. She wants to see them remain on the train.

6. ”Bring back pop-up shops and make them more useful”

Burns wants to see more retail and restaurant options along the streetcar route. She says last summer Central Atlanta Progress organized an effort where so-called “pop-up shops”  popped up along the trolley route. Those are typically people selling various items on a given day in front of vacant retail spaces. Burns says parts of the tram’s route needs development in order to create and maintain the need for the streetcar service.