Feds outline concerns over Atlanta Streetcar in stern letter

The recent vandalizing of multiple Atlanta streetcars might be the least of the system’s worries.

The Federal Transit Administration has sent a stern warning to Mayor Kasim Reed and MARTA Chief Keith Parker about “continuing concerns with the safety and operation” of the Atlanta Streetcar project. The “critical issues” raised in the Sept. 3 letter include:

  • The suspension of streetcar service in July because of multiple defects with its overhead electrical system
  • Failure to maintain contracts with vendors for maintenance services
  • Poorly developed and implemented operating procedures
  • Lack of technical expertise because of high turnover
  • Significant leadership and staffing vacancies
  • Failure to comply with the state’s accident reporting requirements

FTA Region IV Administrator Yvette Taylor admonished both the city and MARTA, which share responsibility for the $98 million system that runs in downtown Atlanta. Under the arrangement, Atlanta owns and operates the system, while MARTA provides “active management” and expertise, at least until the city has the technical capabilities to take the reins.

In a joint statement Tuesday, Atlanta and MARTA officials said they “readily acknowledge” the challenges and lessons learned.

“The City of Atlanta and MARTA recognize that the safety of passengers, staff and the public is of the utmost importance at all times. We will continue working collaboratively to ensure that the streetcar has the best technical and human resources in place to maintain and improve on our record of safe and reliable service.”

To learn more about how Atlanta and MARTA are addressing the streetcar’s troubles, visit MYAJC.com.