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Old 01-01-2015, 10:03 PM
 
7,023 posts, read 7,476,805 times
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Finally, I rode the fabled Atlanta streetcar and quite frankly, as expected, I was underwhelmed. I mean, I knew the route was small, but my god...well, just read on since I'm going to type it up in a bullet. No, this won't be a chamber of commerce type thread, but I will give pros and cons.

We'll start with the biggest downside of it all: Extremely slow.

I was shocked at how slow it felt...on a day where downtown, at least the vehicle traffic wasn't at a maximum. It felt like the average speed was 5 miles per hour when you include stops(some stops felt like we were there for at least 3 minutes, but this will be further down). I can't imagine how bad it's going to be during the 4-7 pm rush hour traffic where downtown streets are clogged. It took about 15-20 minutes from the time the streetcar moved(at Centennial) to get to MLK. It is faster than walking, but this was without massive traffic. I wouldn't rely on it as a GSU student trying to get to class.


2nd downside: Long stops.

This could simply be because the streetcar was extremely crowded and packed, but at some stops, we were there for up to 3 minutes. The Centennial stop, we were there for like 8-10 minutes. Apparently, people have claimed this to be a "terminus". Regardless, when you include stops, the trips take a very long time. At this point, walking can and some points during the day/week, will be faster.

3rd downside: Long headways

Seriously, me and my friend were in Centennial Park and decide to use the streetcar to MLK since we planned on heading over to Inman Park. I think we waited at the stop for about 10-12 minutes and I don't know when the last streetcar came. That's simply too long. Add overhead + actual trip time + traffic = a very long and inefficient trip. Getting there at the time it arrives however can yield decent overall trip results however assuming traffic is at a relative minimum.

1st Upside: It's charming and I like it better than a bus, but it's a somewhat unpleasant experience when crowded especially since I was on with a loud, ghetto obnoxious women who couldn't stop talking at all and criticized the streetcar like no other(very similar to the criticisms you see on these forums).

2nd upside: If the conditions are right, the trip time can yield surprising good results and fast time. It will be faster than walking, but walking is fun and I enjoy walking through the East Downtown neighborhoods more than taking the streetcar.


The truth is the streetcar is a toy for tourists. It's to show off to them. It does nothing for normal residents like MARTA does. The 100 million could have been spent fixing sidewalks(I was angry walking on Krog Street near the Krog Street Market and new apartment being built and NO SIDEWALK, yet we spend 100 million on a streetcar). I wouldn't call the streetcar my favorite projects in Atlanta for 2014 at all and even though I'm very pro-transit, it's just hard to justify the 100 million which could have been spent on sidewalks, roads, new public spaces, or even a streetcar line that actually goes somewhere. And for all of the fame that the streetcar got as far as bringing development and investment, there has yet to be one residential construction start on any part of the line since it started to be built. The Eastside beltline trail which is around the same length and has costed less has gotten over 500 million in private development and thousands of units since it was completed. But it's a project for actual residents, not just a toy for tourists.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:17 PM
 
Location: Georgia
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You do know that there was never any legal requirement to ride the thing, right?
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:21 PM
 
Location: O4W
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It wasn't slow to me because it has to obey traffic rules like everyone else. Those longer stops were because they were waiting on the light to change/etc.


They said they will run 3 streetcars and another can be added daily if needed.

They said the wait time is longer at Centennial Park so the tourist will have more time to get on it
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toll_booth View Post
You do know that there was never any legal requirement to ride the thing, right?
You do know, people can criticize if they want, right? You Atlanta boosters are hilarious. You only want the Chamber of Commerce compliments. If someone dares criticize something in Atlanta, you're extremely quick to be defensive.

Comparing taking the streetcar to walking the Eastside betline trail and I had a far more enjoyable experience on the beltline which costed much less and bought development with it along with a lot more walkers than people riding the streetcar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by afdinatl View Post
It wasn't slow to me because it has to obey traffic rules like everyone else. Those longer stops were because they were waiting on the light to change/etc.


They said they will run 3 streetcars and another can be added daily if needed.

They said the wait time is longer at Centennial Park so the tourist will have more time to get on it
I was talking about the actual station stops, not the streetlights. We were at some of those stops for what felt like a really long time, much longer than your average MARTA rail stop.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:38 PM
 
Location: O4W
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They said service will improve since it's still new. They still have plenty of things to do even though it's running like setting up the breeze card tap thing for people to use once they enter the streetcar so that they can pay for their ride, setting up ticket Vending Machines outside every stop, installing a system so that they will know who didn't pay, etc. I agree with what you said but give them some time
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:03 PM
 
Location: North Atlanta
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And not one mention in your post about this being the first phase of a much larger network.
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Old 01-01-2015, 11:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gulch View Post
And not one mention in your post about this being the first phase of a much larger network.
That's still a pipedream at best. We've been talking about expanding the rail into Alpharetta for how long now?
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:03 AM
 
Location: In your feelings
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I think the streetcar is going to be a success even though I noted most of the same criticisms in my post about my experience riding. Comparing it to MARTA is apples to oranges. MARTA brings people who live in outlying communities into the city. But as a person who lives in the city, most of MARTA is irrelevant to me in its current form -- why would I take it to a neighborhood station unless that's where I lived or where I'd parked my car? Again I say this as someone who enjoys using MARTA for as much as I can. The streetcar, on the other hand, has 12 stops within a < 3 mi loop. By its nature it's going to be slower than MARTA but it also exclusively serves walkable locations, all of which are going to become destinations if enough residents (and yes, tourists, which we need) ride it. Half a century of experience has shown that buses just don't do that job.
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:30 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
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Some of your criticisms are just.

Keep in mind, this isn't an implementation thing. This what streetcars are actually like going into a town's core. This is typical.

However... a few things to keep keep in mind...

The crowds (minus big event surges) will die down. This is just alot of people checking it out, since it is new. Some aspects, like the station stops, will eventually speed up.

For locals, I never expected this to be a big deal... at least until it is extended. It will hopefully connect to the Beltline and this will be the transfer free connector from a slightly faster Beltline track into downtown. Keep in mind the development on the east side of the Beltline has spurred from a mix of investments including a planned transit, which will take time for the TAD to collect enough money for.

For tourists... This isn't just a toy and it isn't a small thing. This will actually encourage tourist to go in a direction they wouldn't walk as far to or figure out how to use the bus system. I travel nearly 100% internationally for work. I can tell you tourist mainly stick to the tracks or specialty bus corridors, unless a family member, business associate, or event coordinator have given specific instructions for how to navigate a small part of the bus system. And well... Keep in mind we are one of the biggest convention towns in the country, so paying attention to tourists is no small thing.


I understand how you feel about the ghetto obnoxious women... but that's public transit...


My ultimate read on the situation is this.... Atlanta and Georgia was due in for their fair share of federal funds. Funds were available, but in limited quantities. Rather than lose access to our fair share, they got together and got local CID/TAD funding from downtown to account for the local matching costs to get the federal funding to us. That is why it is so short. We built something that can and is expected to be expanded in the future and we built the most expensive part that is expect to be the slowest part..... as it goes into the core.

I think this would get more fanfare locally if they stuck to the Peachtree Street route to Midtown, but that sort of funding wasn't on the table.

What I would like to bring to the table for other posters to discuss, especially as they are reading Ants comments on what we end up with.

If we built a streetcar north intown Midtown, I think we need to strongly consider using up a lane in the West Peacthree St/Spring St viaducts. Have a streetcar/bus only lane. I think both streets can afford to be mostly 3 lanes, so long as the transit lane can double as the right turn lane at intersections. This comes at a cost, though. Most destinations are on Peachtree St. This is where we want tourists to go and there are more local destinations. That would be up to 4 large blocks away from the street car at points. This would include the peak value area around Colony Square. With as narrow as Peachtree Street is, a lane couldn't ever be closed.

However on the pro side... It would be dedicated lanes, it passes by Arts Center station more directly and it would be easier for streetcars to reach the dedicated lanes on 17th street to Atlantic Station (and perhaps a enhanced LRT to Cobb that could make use of the streetcar tracks for the last mile destinations)
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:35 AM
 
Location: East Point
4,234 posts, read 5,214,455 times
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it's an economic development tool, not a transportation solution. there has already been a greater dollar amount invested into properties along the streetcar route than the money that has been invested in the construction and operation of the route itself.

the point is to redirect the development that has been occuring in midtown and along the beltline towards the economically depressed areas and unutilized lots along the streetcar route, which have not seen economic investment in years. it has already seen success by this measure, however, we won't know its impact on a long-term basis for several years.
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