2/14: Streetcars worth the investment?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Ground has been broken on construction of a new streetcar line in downtown Atlanta. The federal government is funding about half the cost, which the city estimates at $84.7 million.

Critics point to expensive subsidies needed to build and run streetcars, while supporters I spoke with claim the economic runoff in jobs and infrastructure is well worth the investment.

What do you think?

34 comments Add your comment


February 14th, 2012
9:05 am

If it’s the only line built, then yes, it’s a complete waste.

However, if it eventually connects to the Beltline, if similar lines are built up through midtown, if it attracts long-term businesses and residents, it could be the best $94mil we’ve ever spent.

Those are big ifs.


February 14th, 2012
8:50 am

What a waste, and the politicians that back this think I need my taxes raised. These boongoggles show taxpayers that we are overtaxed.


February 14th, 2012
8:15 am

The streetcar will die a quick death due to insuficient ridership. First they will cut hours of service, then drop some days, then its gone.

Unfortunately the reminder of the unused tracks will remain for years!


February 14th, 2012
8:06 am

I agree with many of those above who say if the trolley served truly a combo of tourist and locals by allowing on and off trolley-hopping at points of interest as well as business destinations, it would be a great idea and worth the investment. In southern Florida they had water busses that for a flat daily fee, tourists could get on and off as many times as they wanted at predesignated stops. The cost was $10 or so, but cheap for such service. Combine that with a $3 locals one time on/off and it could well serve both masters.

Dumb and Dumber

February 14th, 2012
8:02 am

Of course roads don’t require subsidies, so that is why we should build only roads!

If y’all had your way, nothing transit related would ever be built. And, BTW, its the City’s tax dollars that are being spent, not the suburbanites. Before you start chirping about how you pay taxes too, remember that Atlanta receives less of its tax dollars back from the state and feds than the suburban and rural counties do. If the Atlanta City Council wants to build a streetcar line, the only people who should be complaining are city taxpayers — not folks in Cobb or Gwinnett or DeKalb.

I remember a governor that took city tax dollars and built boat ramps in South Georgia to promote fishing…and I don’t recall any of y’all having a problem with that.

How does that hypocrisy taste?


February 14th, 2012
7:57 am

Back in the old days, MARTA bus route 2 used to run all the way up Peachtree from Underground to Lenox Mall. Then there was the route 17 that ran down Edgewood to Inman Park. These and other major bus lines replaced older trolley lines and should have shown us the way to go, again. They were useful and worked well until MARTA took away the connecting bus lines in favor of trains, and then got rid of more bus lines in more recent years. You can’t use the bus to get everywhere any more.

The worst part about this trolley is that it goes between two places people have shown little interest to go. Sure, both places are great to visit and get lots of people, but the same can be said of many two points of interest. Nobody has shown they are the same people, or that the only thing keeping them from visiting both places was a lack of a way to get there. The least they could have done was run a bus shuttle first to see if there was any demand -MARTA has plenty of mothballed busses and drivers, or even get a private company to do it. But a test bus route might have revealed the answer was no, not really; it won’t work, or that it needs to include the hotel district to work, and nobody wants to hear that their perfect design is flawed. They’d rather build it and see if anyone comes.

And once you’ve visited the King Center and Centennial Park, then what? If you are a tourist, it’s back to your hotel. Thanks for your $3 trolley fare contribution. Be sure to visit Atlanta again! If you are local, heck, you’d drive downtown and skip the trolley entirely. Thanks for your $5 parking lot fee.


February 14th, 2012
4:32 am

What will be the annual subsidy to keep the system running. Politically motivated idea with out any concern of the cost, based on a false premise that it will attract enough riders to pay for it. I agree with Scratchin my head, put it where it will be used.


February 13th, 2012
11:59 pm

Think about it…

Basically they are replacing an existing bus with a trolley at a cost of $90,000,000.00 give or take a few million.

Atlanta needs improvement in education, water & sewer, police, fire protection, courts, jails and numerous other projects.

If the average Atlanta resident makes approximately $40,000 per year about 2200 of you will be working fulltime next year to pay for this project.

I realize this is not part of TSPLOST, but the folks who made this decision are the same folks who will be making the decision on how to spend that money also.

Think about it…


February 13th, 2012
11:58 pm


Scratchin my head

February 13th, 2012
10:43 pm

Loop the dang thang from the sports stadium to the convention hotels and the ta ta bars and then you will see a revenue stream