Improving Atlanta’s international standing as a convention and tourism hub is among the aims of Atlanta Streetcar Inc., a public-private partnership working to promote construction of a streetcar system on Peachtree Street, said the organization’s chairman, Michael Robison, last week.
Formed in 2003, Atlanta Streetcar is to hold its first official board meeting this week to examine how a streetcar system could benefit a city known for its traffic woes and gridlock.
Already, the initiative has received positive response from the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and neighborhood development councils in downtown Atlanta, Midtown and Buckhead, Mr. Robison, who is also president of Lanier Holdings Inc., told GlobalFax. He estimated that a streetcar ride from Five Points in downtown Atlanta north on Peachtree Street to Buckhead would cost between $1 and $2, providing city residents and visitors with an efficient and affordable commute alternative.
In particular, the convention industry, centered in downtown Atlanta, would benefit, he said.
Currently, a taxi ride from the Georgia World Congress Center, where many international conventions are held, to the Buckhead restaurant and shopping district costs nearly $30, one way.
Too often, said Mr. Robison, this is a disincentive for conventioneers and tourists staying in downtown Atlanta to visit other parts of the city or stay an extra day for additional sightseeing.
He added that a streetcar system would better connect visitors to Atlanta’s tourist attractions, which are scattered in different areas of the city.
The streetcars could also become tourist attractions in and of themselves, said Mr. Robison, citing the popularity of the San Francisco trolley system and a new streetcar system in Portland, Ore.
He further stressed that a streetcar system in Atlanta would work in concert with MARTA, the city’s heavy rail system, providing additional connection points between MARTA stations.
HDR Inc., a consulting and research firm, is to begin a feasibility study on the streetcar proposal in the coming months. Mr. Robison said he expects a portion of the study to be completed by early spring for inclusion in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s transportation improvement plan.
A previous streetcar system in Atlanta, which began operating in the late 1800s, closed down in the early 1960s as city residents moved to the suburbs and improvemed roads made car travel more efficient.
For more information, contact Ann Wiener, a PR representative with Atlanta Streetcar, (404) 577-8900.