Oh, they might think they want it, if they've never spent much time on one. But I have.
For four and a half years, when I lived in Brussels, I took a streetcar to and from work every day. My 3-mile commute each way took about 25 minutes, what with the frequent stops, traffic lights, stalled cars and congestion in a shared lane — all problems Atlanta’s streetcars will face, except on the Beltline. The trip often took longer; had it done so consistently, I’d have stopped riding.
For good measure, earlier this year I rode the entire Atlanta Streetcar loop. It took about 40 minutes.
So there are few commuting options I can imagine disliking more than moving at streetcar speed along the 5 miles of Campbellton Road between Greenbriar Mall and the Beltline. That could take a full hour, and for most riders it’d be only the first segment.
At that June meeting, Paul Morris, CEO of Atlanta Beltline Inc., told Bottoms much the same thing: “The modeling and the analysis showed the utility of (a Campbellton Road) line was difficult to, from an operations and ridership standpoint, make work. So that (line) was converted from a streetcar line to a higher-capacity bus route.”
But “bus” is a dirty word among transit fans, as Bottoms’ reaction reflected. It’s not a trendy, shiny object like a streetcar. It’s just often the most economical, flexible mode to employ, and the one that riders would actually appreciate the most if it were done right.
Now, back to the plan approved this month. No prizes if you guessed it includes a line running down Campbellton Road to Greenbriar Mall.
I suppose that line’s inclusion would fit nicely in the kind of glossy magazine an ambitious politician might send outside her district in the name of attracting votes — I mean, investments. But the people of southwest Atlanta who think they’re getting a good, modern connection to the rest of the city will probably be disappointed.