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Mayor Reed: Atlanta Streetcar’s fare to be free through 2015

April 1,2015

via Atlanta Business Chronicle

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta Streetcar will continue its free fares through the end of the year, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday at the annual breakfast meeting of Central Atlanta Progress.

The Atlanta Streetcar, which began operating its downtown loop on Dec. 31, 2014, was supposed to be free only for the first three months. Then the fare was supposed to be $1, collected through MARTA and its Breeze card system.

But the mayor explained he had a change of heart on a recent trip to Israel, where he learned about different technologies that could be available for fare collection on the streetcar. He thought it would be better to take the next several months to study what system would work best for Atlanta “rather than force a solution.”

Reed also said the Atlanta Streetcar is on track to meet its 2015 budget without having to rely on the estimated $300,000 in revenue from the fares.

“We should let the Atlanta Streetcar become a habit,” Reed said in an interview after the CAP annual meeting. “I’m confident we can have an app that can work better than the Breeze card.”

Reed said the Atlanta Streetcar has had more than 100,000 riders since its inception -- nearly 8,000 riders per week.

He also noted the investments along the streetcar corridor since the project was announced in 2010 -- $560 million in new investment and another $280 million underway in 2015 for a total of $840 million in five years.

“That’s the argument we’ve been making all along,” Reed said. “I feel really food about it.”

The next step is to extend the Atlanta Streetcar a quarter mile so it will connect to the Eastside segment of the Atlanta BeltLine. The mayor said he is working with federal officials to get funding for that extension.

“First I need to get a real estimate I can stand behind,” Reed said, adding that he now has “tunnel-vision” on getting that extension built and being able to secure federal funding for the BeltLine connection.