Following a few glowing headlines, relatively speaking, Atlanta’s 48-ton transit inchworms, also called the streetcar system, have been dealt another thumbs down.
A vocal critic of the $98 million transportation project, Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Project, is calling for a shutdown of the city’s nascent streetcar network, which has been boarded by a mere fraction of the passengers planners had expected and hoped for, according to Channel 2.
The on-road rail system was also built above budget—40 percent higher, that is—and is expected to cost more than $3 million to run this year, Dodd notes.
“The best thing the city can do is say, ‘Okay, let this serve as a monument to our colossal failure on this project,’” Dodd told the news station. “Stop it.”
Since its inception, the streetcar project has been slated to expand into a web of rail lines that would connect with, among other city hotspots, Atlanta Beltline trails.
But the streetcar, which some argue has found its footing as a tourist attraction and means of carting visitors to and from big sporting events and major conventions, has caught flak for sitting on the sidelines even when people flood the city.
Some urbanists, such as the gang at ThreadATL, called foul on the streetcar’s shutdown during the recent College Football Playoff National Championship.
MARTA is reportedly nearing a June takeover of the ill-performing system, but Dodd said growing the line should be seen as a lost cause. “Don’t expand something that is failing so enormously,” she told Channel 2.
WSB investigative reporter Richard Belcher called the system’s cars “sleek and empty.” Ridership, he said, was 58 percent lower than the million-ish people expected to use the streetcar annually.
It’s worth noting that, before bowing out of office, ex-Mayor Kasim Reed actually vowed to bring back free streetcar rides.
Maybe that would summon the masses?