11Alive news has learned MARTA will take over operation of the City of Atlanta's Streetcar.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told 11Alive's Shiba Russell that he hopes the streetcar will eventually reach all the way to the Beltline.
"The city is funding MARTA's expansion, the largest expansion in its history, to the tune of $2.6 billion dollars. That referendum was passed with 70% voter support," Mayor Reed said during a live interview in the 11Alive newscast. "So, as a part of that process the streetcar system is being absorbed into MARTA as a part of the $2.6 billion expansion. So we're excited about it."
Mayor Reed said there's no timetable yet for when the streetcar's routes will expand. Currently, it runs on a 2.7 mile route that includes Centennial Olympic Park, the King Center and the Peachtree Center MARTA station.
"We've had 1.5 million riders and within a five minute walk of the Atlanta streetcar we've had more than $2 million dollars in new construction," Mayor Reed said. "So I think the streetcar, long-term, is going to be a great investment."
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Mayor Reed also told 11Alive he hopes the streetcar will begin offering free rides again at some point in the future.
The streetcar came under fire in 2015 after the Georgia Department of Transportation cited 66 safety concerns or problems in an audit. 11Alive reached out to GDOT today, and they said the City has fixed all of those problems.