While Atlanta is abuzz with MARTA and the city's proposed building of 21 miles of light rail lines and other transit improvements, the Atlanta Streetcar is quietly making its reduced-emission way around the Cenntennial Olympic Park area.
The modern electric streetcar will never "clang, clang, clang" like the Judy Garland song, but it does provide an entertaining field trip for visitors and local families and a frugal means of beating Atlanta-area traffic congestion on the way to work or events.
MARTA is set to take over the Atlanta Streetcar. It would become part of the light rail system when the proposed expansion creates a connecting link through downtown along the existing streetcar route, funded with the proceeds of a sales tax approved by city voters in 2016.
But Atlantans and tourists don't have to wait to enjoy a ride. The Streetcar named Atlanta has been operating since 2014 and its East-West Phase One route connects the Centennial Olympic Park area to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, with 12 stops along the alignment in between the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Centennial Olympic Park.
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The fare is one American dollar, which is pretty darn reasonable. And it may become flat zero when MARTA takes over operations July 1, depending on future MARTA board decisions (which will also determine issues like how frequently the streetcar will run).
Whether it's free or merely frugal, passengers can add even more enjoyment to an Atlanta Streetcar trip with these nine value-adds:
Climate control. The streetcar has AC and cozy heat. So even if you actually drove to the downtown area and parked, consider hopping aboard to cool off or warm down, depending on the season.
Seguing aboard with a segway. While you'd anticipate being able to bring your bike onto the streetcar (after all, a big part of the philosophy behind bringing it back after 50 years of inactivity was reducing environmental impact), it's very cool that segways are also allowed, in the low-floor section only. Great excuse to take your favorite walking-challenged senior citizen out and about to some destinations in the Centennial Park Area.
Visiting the AIDS Memorial Quilt's new downtown home. There's something fitting about taking a quiet, "everyone welcome" method of transportation to experience the powerful message of the 54-ton quilt, which moved to this spot near the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta only last year.
Hitching a ride to your next haircut. Another "who knew?" among the places near Atlanta Streetcar stops: Vintage the Barber SHOP, near the Luckie at Cone stop. It's old school and also famous for shearing Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps on a recent visit.
Tracking progress so you don't waste time. The streetcar concept in the ATL may hark back to the days before car traffic took over downtown, but it's got a modern vehicle tracking system that lets you know where the vehicles are and when they will reach their next stop, along with an interactive map that shows the route and the vehicle's progress along it.
Your phone, their app. Just in case the $1 fee does stick around after July 1, keep in mind that the Atlanta Streetcar mobile ticketing app is at the ready for weekly, monthly and visitor passes. Download the app in the Apple Store or from Google Play.
Enjoying (at least) seven more Streetcar Experiences. Each month for the rest of 2018, The Monthly Streetcar Experience does the organizing for sight-seeing riders, offering an enhanced view of the history and happenings that shape the downtown neighborhoods along the Streetcar line. Monthly celebrations include June's exploration of Luckie at Cone, home to arts and culture in the Fairlie-Poplar District; August's "park and ride" focus on the Park Place stop and December's holiday adventure at Dobbs Plaza.
Skipping event traffic in the Centennial Park District. Jump on the streetcar and leave the car at home (or at a park and ride lot) for events like the July 15-16 "Share an ICE COLD Coke" Experience at World of Coca-Cola or the July 21 Gary Clark Jr. at the Tabernacle.
Loving it so much you move in nearby. Desire to live near the Streetcar? That can happen. Just three samples of Atlanta Streetcar friendly condos include 123 Luckie Condos; 90 Fairlie Condos and The Healey Condos.