Streetcars in Atlanta

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A view of a horsecar on Peachtree Street in 1882
Atlanta streetcar, 1910. Pay-as-you-enter cars were being introduced at the time

In February 2012 construction kicked off on the first modern streetcar line in Atlanta.[1] There are proposals for several additional streetcar routes.

Streetcars operated in Atlanta starting with horsecars in 1871; electric streetcar service started in the 1880s. The last streetcar service on the old network ended in 1949; the streetcar system was quickly replaced by a trolleybus system and with buses. In addition to streetcars in Atlanta proper there were also interurban railways from Atlanta to outlying towns.


Streetcars 1871-1949

Map of Atlanta's streetcar system in 1924
Map of Atlanta's streetcar system and other transit in 1946

Timeline and Streetcar Operators


From 1889-1901, the famed Nine-Mile Circle line ran from Downtown Atlanta to Ponce de Leon Springs and what is now Virginia Highland.

In 1924, Georgia Power operated the following streetcar lines (see map above):

Source:Georgia Power timetable, 1924

Former interurban lines

Georgia Railway and Power Company ran lines[7] on private rights-of-way from Atlanta to:

Lines under construction

Downtown Loop

This line, called both the Downtown Loop or simply the Atlanta Streetcar, is to run from Centennial Olympic Park along Edgewood and Auburn avenues to the King Center and will have a stop at MARTA's Peachtree Center Station. The exact route is:

Proposed streetcar lines (21st century)


A much longer route along Peachtree Street, the city's main street. Originally, the line was to run from the Oakland City neighborhood through Downtown Atlanta, Midtown and Buckhead. However a more recent (2010) pared-down proposal would run between the Arts Center MARTA station in Midtown and the Five Points MARTA station downtown.[8]

BeltLine routes

Streetcar routes that would have been funded by 1-cent sales tax, which was voted down in July 2012

In July 2012, there was a referendum on a 1-cent sales tax (SPLOST) to fund traffic and road improvements. If it had been approved, the tax would have funded several streetcar routes along portions of the BeltLine trail and connections onto MARTA stations and with the Downtown Loop streetcar. The final list of projects to have been funded included 2 routes (maps, p.56-57):

The earlier proposal in March 2011 included two lines that did not make the final list for the July 2012 vote:


The proposal was defeated in the 10-county Metro Atlanta region, as a region 63% against and 37% for.[13]In Fulton and DeKalb Counties the results were 52% against and 48% for.

C-Loop (abandoned concept)

In 2005, MARTA analyzed - in addition to the BeltLine - the "C-Loop" ("C"-shaped rail line) linking Emory University, Lindbergh Center, Atlantic Station, Georgia Tech, the Georgia Dome, the AUC, Turner Field, Grant Park, and proceeding eastward along I-20 to South DeKalb Mall. The route originated from the efforts of Reps. John Lewis, Denise Majette and Cynthia McKinney, who obtained funding from the Dept. of Transportation for a $2 million dollar feasibility study.[14] The concept no longer appears in proposals from the various Georgia transportation authorities, however the part of the route is now part of the Clifton Corridor initiative to build either MARTA rail, light rail, and/or bus rapid transit between Lindbergh and Emory and on to Avondale MARTA station.

Northern Crescent

In June 2011 the Gwinnett, Cobb, and North Fulton Chambers of Commerce held a summit to promote light rail transit in the northern metropolitan area. It was especially remarkable in light of decades-long opposition to rapid transit in the area.[15][16] Proposed routes (see map) would form a "W" and connect:

Chronology of Atlanta's modern streetcars

Atlanta Streetcar, Inc.

Atlanta Streetcar, Inc. (ASC) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to bring streetcars back to downtown Atlanta. ASC's board members include the leaders of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, MARTA, Georgia World Congress Center, Buckhead Community Improvement District, Buckhead Coalition, Underground Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, Woodruff Arts Center, and many local corporate business leaders as well.[17]

Peachtree Corridor Partnership

In the summer of 2007, a new privately funded group called the Peachtree Corridor Partnership was formed, with the goal of determining how best to move forward the proposed rebuilding of Peachtree Street as a more attractive and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare.[18] The addition of a modern streetcar line was (and remains) one of the main components of the proposed transformation of the corridor, so many of the board members of ASC became members of the Peachtree Corridor Task Force, and the partnership eventually replaced the function of ASC as the organization advocating for a streetcar line along Peachtree Street.

In July 2009, the Atlanta city council approved funding a feasibility study to work out certain details of the proposed streetcar line in time to apply for federal economic-stimulus funds for the construction of a such a line.[19] However, several council members later expressed doubts over whether the remainder of the funding necessary to bring the project to fruition was likely, particularly during a time of recession.[20]

Downtown Loop route funded

In September 2010, it was announced that Phase I of the Atlanta Streetcar Project had received $47 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II funding. The funding represents 8% of the overall TIGER II allotment, and will fund the construction of the downtown loop, not the Peachtree Corridor line, which is now regarded as Phase II of the project.[21][22][23]

In May 2011 Siemens announced that it had won the $17.2 million contract to build the four streetcars that will run on the Downtown Connector line. According to Siemens, the first vehicle was expected to be delivered in September 2012.

They would be based on the company's S70 light rail vehicle platform, built in Sacramento, California, but with major components, including the propulsion system, assembled at Siemens' Alpharetta plant in the Atlanta metropolitan area.[24]

In February 2012 the city announced that the budget would increase from $70 million to $90 million. The city attributed the increase to:<ref=ajc020112/>

See also

External links

Streetcars 1871-1949

Current proposed streetcar system


  1. ^ Jeremiah McWilliams, "Atlanta kicks off streetcar construction", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 1, 2012
  2. ^ Carson, O.E., The Trolley Titans, Interurban Press, Glendale, CA, 1981, p.xi
  3. ^ Carson, O.E., The Trolley Titans, Interurban Press, Glendale, CA, 1981, p.xi
  4. ^ "Black Boycotts", Ebony, October 1969
  5. ^ "Segregation", The New Georgia Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Carson, O.E., The Trolley Titans, Interurban Press, Glendale, CA, 1981, p.xi
  7. ^ Hilton, George W.; Due, John (1960). The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press. 
  8. ^ Environmental Assessment for the Atlanta Streetcar, prepared by the City of Atlanta and MARTA for the US DOT
  9. ^ Thomas Wheatley, "Where do you want Beltline transit to go? Here are planners' ideas.", Creative Loafing, February 28, 2011
  10. ^ Thomas Wheatley, "Streetcar, Beltline, MARTA improvements top Atlanta's transportation-tax wishlist", Creative Loafing, March 30, 2011
  11. ^ Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., "Citywide Briefing on Transit Implementation Strategy & Transportation Investment Act Projects", Feb 17, 2011
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Inner Core Feasibility Wrap-Up Report", MARTA, March 2005
  15. ^ "Transit summit of Atlanta's northern suburbs seen as 'breakthrough moment'", Sapota Report, June 8, 2011
  16. ^ Sydney Busby, "Leaders Discuss Proposed Light Rail System", Acworth Patch, June 11, 2011
  17. ^ "Board of Directors". Atlanta Streetcar, Inc.. Archived from the original on 2007-07-27. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  18. ^ "Collaboration to build a ‘destination street’". Peachtree Corridor Partnership. 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  19. ^ Williams, Dave (2009-07-20). "Atlanta City Council OKs streetcar study". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  20. ^ Williams, Dave (2009-10-12). "Council members question streetcar funding". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  21. ^,_Jr.,_National_Historic_Site
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Thomas Whaeatley, "Downtown streetcar to be built by Siemens", Creative Loafing, May 22, 2011