By Collin Kelley
While the new Atlanta Streetcar won’t be in operation until the summer, you’ll start seeing the big blue carriages along the route this month as the testing phase begins.
The city had hoped the streetcars would be operational by Memorial Day weekend, but construction and weather delays as well as cost overruns have pushed the opening back to an unspecified date in the summer.
With track now embedded along the entire 2.7-mile line, which runs from Centennial Olympic Park to the King Center along Edgewood and Auburn avenues, crews are now completing the overhead wiring that will provide electricity to the streetcars and building the station platforms.
According to Sharon Gavin, communications director for the Atlanta Streetcar, the city has two streetcars stored at the Edgewood maintenance facility and is scheduled take possession of two more the first week of May.
“We’ll begin testing the rails once all four streetcars are in,” Gavin said.
She said the city is federally mandated to test the streetcars for a certain number of hours. The testing will begin by towing the streetcars along the tracks to check for clearance, visibility and that the overhead connections are working along the route.
“Residents and visitors will see the cars on the tracks mostly at night as the testing and training of drivers progresses,” Gavin said. “This will give people the chance to get used to having them on the streets.”
She said there will be a learning curve for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists on how to navigate the streets where the streetcar is running. Educational brochures and a video will soon be available to offer tips and guidelines.
Each streetcar will have seating for 60 plus plenty of standing room so that each car can carry up to 200 people. There will be four designated wheelchair spaces on each car and people will be allowed to brings bikes onboard.
There will be 12 stops on the route: Carnegie at Spring, Peachtree Center, Woodruff Park, Auburn at Piedmont, Dobbs Plaza, King Historic District, Edgewood at Hilliard, Sweet Auburn Market, Hurt Park, Park Place, Luckie at Cone and Centennial Olympic Park.
Riders will be able to climb aboard the streetcars for free for the first three months, then fares will be $1 per ride or $3 for an all-day pass. There are also ongoing discussions with the city about fare structures for monthly passes, visitors, conventioneers and students.
Gavin said pop-up shops selected for the route will begin opening in June. Some of the shops will include vintage home furnishings from City Issue, music and comics from Criminal Records, pop-up experts The Indie Craft Experience, Just Add Honey Tea Company, jewelry and gifts from Modern Tribe and interior decorating from Nandina Designs.
On June 21 there will be 5K race called Run the Rails that follows the streetcar route through Downtown. Visit streetcar.atlantaga.gov for registration information and other updates about the streetcar project.