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MARTA Faces Additional Hurdles In Atlanta Streetcar Takeover

The Atlanta Streetcar system is set to be operated by MARTA, but several details need to be worked out.
The Atlanta Streetcar system is set to be operated by MARTA, but several details need to be worked out.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

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Atlanta city officials say it will take about a year before MARTA takes over operation of the Atlanta Streetcar.

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Earlier this week, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that MARTA will become the sole operator of the streetcar system, which went into service in late 2014.

But William Johnson, the city’s public works commissioner, said the MARTA board still has to take a final vote next month before it’s a done deal.

 

Johnson said the “game changer” that’s helping the transit agency take over the streetcar is the half-penny sales tax voters approved for MARTA last year.

 

Once that passed, it just started to make more and more sense because MARTA was going to have now the resources that it needed to expand and improve transit throughout our area,” Johnson said.

 

Johnson said MARTA plans to use some of the sales tax money to connect the streetcar to the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail near the Krog Street Market. But that’s a development down the line. Currently, the streetcar runs along a 2.7-mile loop through downtown Atlanta, including Centennial Olympic Park.

After MARTA’s vote, Johnson said the transition will take about a year because of various technicalities, including transferring payrolls and assets. He said a group of MARTA and city officialsand possibly a few folks from Georgia’s Department of Transportationwill work to sort out the details.

“The whole idea is to do it right and not rush it and create more issues,” Johnson said.

Since the streetcar’s current operational setup is an intergovernmental agreement, Johnson said the Federal Transit Administration, which oversees the nation’s local transit authorities, also has to approve the changes.