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Streetcar to remain free for rest of 2015 | News

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Streetcar to remain free for rest of 2015
News, Transportation
Streetcar to remain free for rest of 2015

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed surprised everyone Tuesday morning when he said you won't need that dollar to ride the Atlanta Streetcar.

At the annual meeting of Central Atlanta Progress, Reed said the streetcar will remain free for all of 2015.

The Atlanta Streetcar has been free since it first started running back in December. But riders were supposed to start paying a dollar per fare starting April 1st.

Reed says the original fare collection method, which would have required a card similar to MARTA, was outdated.

"We've had a number of firms repeatedly approach us, many of them Atlanta-based, and offered to provide state-of-the-art technology that I think will be a better fare system," Reed said.

Reed calls the streetcar a success.

But ridership has been lower than predicted, about 2,000 passengers a day instead of 2,200. And Atlanta taxpayers have also found out that the streetcar costs about a million dollars more to operate than they were originally told.

The $1 fares were supposed to cover about one-fourth of the operating costs.

Without that money coming in how will the city pay for it?

"We can do it within budget for the 2015 year's use," Reed said.

Fares were projected to generate about $300,000 for the streetcar's annual operating budget. The mayor's office said these funds will now be made up of a combination of private philanthropic dollars, operational efficiencies and belt tightening.

News, Transportation