Atlanta’s streetcar will be expanded to a 50-plus-mile system running throughout the city. City Council approved the new Streetcar System Plan last week, according to AJC.com. The streetcar will be the first long-range public transit plan for the city of Atlanta, and will include five crosstown routes and 22 miles of streetcar service along the BeltLine.
The streetcar took its inaugural trip almost exactly a year ago, in December 2014, and some residents were critical of the spending choice. The current 2.7-mile line cost $98 million, and many questioned how useful such a short route would be. Supporters argued that the streetcar would help entice more businesses to set up shop in the city’s center rather than the suburbs.
The expanded streetcar service along the BeltLine is part of Atlanta’s ambitious plans for the 22-miles historic railroad loop around the city. When completed, the BeltLine will have walk and bike trails, green space, art, and housing. Parts of the trail and six parks are already open for use, with others opening in segments until 2030.
Having the streetcar plan in place also enables Atlanta to apply for large-scale federal transportation funding.
Kelsey E. Thomas is Next City’s associate editor.