Realizing that many construction projects of this size go over budget, how much leeway is there for cost overruns?

At this stage of project development, larger contingencies are applied to project costs. A contingency of approximately 20 percent has been applied to the streetcar cost estimates. The contingency percentage will be reduced once engineering details are developed and cost estimates are refined.

When would construction begin and how long will the plan take to implement?

Construction on the east-west route is estimated to begin in late 2011 and continue through 2012 with service beginning in the middle of 2013; it will be built in stages, targeting one block every 2 to 3 weeks. The proposed north-south route would be implemented subsequently.

What is the total capital cost for infrastructure for the proposed streetcar?

The total capital cost for the Atlanta Streetcar is $288.8 million in 2009 base year dollars, which includes both the north-south and east-west routes. The capital cost estimate reflects Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guidelines, which require the following categories be included in the capital cost estimate:

• Guideway and Track Elements

• Stations

• Support Facilities (including a light maintenance facility)

• Sitework and Special Conditions (such as utility coordination, environmental work, pedestrian accommodations and landscaping)

• Systems Requirements (such as signalization upgrades, fare collection components, electrical power/propulsion systems)

• Land Improvements

• Purchase of Streetcar Vehicles and Spare Parts

• Professional Services and Project Management

• Contingency

What is the annual operating cost of the service?

The annual operating costs for the streetcar are $5.83 million in 2012 dollars. This is for the combined north-south route and east-west route and includes the operating costs for the streetcar as well as the establishment of a two-month operating reserve. The operation and maintenance costs reflect FTA guidelines, review of existing systems with streetcar operations, and MARTA’s experience providing transit service to the region. Components of the O&M costs include: operations, maintenance, and administrative staff; benefits; electricity; parts and supplies; station maintenance and general administrative costs.

Is there a green component to the project?

In addition to providing an alternative to driving, the streetcar technology employs electric power, which is a greener alternative to gasoline fuel and creates fewer emissions.

Who will own and operate the streetcar system?

For the initial east-west route, an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Atlanta, MARTA, and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID), is being developed. The City is the grant applicant and will be the owner of the streetcar assets. MARTA will be the grant recipient and is proposed to play a role in the operation of the system. Alternative business models for governance, management and operations are under review and will be evaluated by all of the partners involved to determine the best arrangement.

How many one way riders will there be on the system on a typical weekday?

Average one way trips for the combined north-south route and east-west route are between 12,000-17,700 daily, depending on route and fare. However, modern streetcar and light rail systems across the nation have seen higher ridership levels than planning models forecast. For example, the 9.6-mile Charlotte LYNX light rail line opened in November 2007. It has easily exceeded its first-year ridership target of 9,100 weekday boardings, consistently recording approximately 15,000 weekday boardings since its opening, a 65% increase. (Source: Charlotte Observer, July 2009).

How many fewer cars will be on the road?

The estimated number of single-occupancy vehicles attracted to transit is about 11-14% of ridership estimates. This estimate does not include the number of people who choose to switch to transit for special events.

What are the proposed hours of operation?

The proposed schedule for both streetcar routes is from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. weekdays; 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Saturdays; and 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sundays.