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MARTA to take over operations of Atlanta Streetcar

MARTA will take over operations of the Atlanta Streetcar and rides may one day once again be free, Mayor Kasim Reed said in an interview on Tuesday.

“The MARTA system is going to be absorbing the Atlanta Streetcar, and we’re going to be expanding it to the Atlanta BeltLine,” Reed said in an appearance on WXIA 11 Alive.

Atlanta streetcar ridership is below what it was two years ago and is bringing in very little revenue, according to authorities.

The news comes just days after the 2.7-mile light rail system received word from the Georgia Department of Transportation that it had satisfactorily fixed or was on track to fix 66 safety and maintenance problems outlined in state and federal audits.

“We’re really excited to get the all clear signal,” Reed said. “(There have been) six months without any incidents or accidents of any kind.”

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Reed did not say when MARTA would take over the service or offer details about how it would connect to the BeltLine. Atlanta Public Works Commissioner William Johnson said in an exclusive interview earlier this month with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a connection to the BeltLine would take years.

As for free Streetcar service, Reed said that is definitely in the system’s future.

“I think we will be shifting to it being free, we are just trying to look at the right timing for that,” he said. “When we look at our peer cities, their streetcars are typically free and they are designed to encourage investment along the corridor.”

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