By David Pendered
The transfer of the ownership and management of the Atlanta Streetcar from the city to MARTA will take about a year to finalize and will be retroactive to July 1, Atlanta’s Public Works commissioner said Wednesday.
“In our ongoing conversations, the way we see this happening is MARTA will fund the operation of the streetcar,” Public Works Commissioner William Johnson told the Transportation Committee of the Atlanta City Council. “It will be retroactive to July 1.”
MARTA’s Board of Directors voted June 1 for a resolution to authorize CEO/General Manager Keith Parker, or his delegate, to enter an intergovernmental agreement to transfer the ownership and control of the streetcar’s operations to MARTA. The pertinent part of the legislation states:
- “Whereas, the Parties desire to enter an intergovernmental agreement to provide for the transfer of the Project operations and assets to MARTA to expand and enhance MARTA transfer service in the City;
- “Resolved, therefore, by the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority that the General Manager/CEO or his delegate be, and hereby is, authorized to execute an intergovernmental agreement (and such ancillary agreements) with the other Parties to provide for the transf3r and control of Project operations and assets to MARTA in accordance with Section 8(r) of the MARTA act.”
Johnson made his remarks in response to a question from Councilmember Kwanza Hall. Hall asked whether the city or MARTA will be responsible for maintaining the streetcar system.
Johnson said MARTA will be responsible for those costs. Meanwhile, many details have to be resolved and negotiations will take time.
“We want to be thoughtful,” Johnson said. “We all agree we want to get this done, but we want to get it done right.”
Issues include the transfer of assets from Atlanta to MARTA. Construction costs reached about $100 million. Terms of the deal called for the system to be owned by Atlanta and funded with money from four sources, according to streetcar records:
- TIGER II grant from the Federal Transition Administration: $47.6 million;
- Atlanta, via Recovery Zone bond proceeds and clean water funds from the Watershed Management Department: $32.6 million;
- Atlanta Downtown Improvement District: $6 million;
- Atlanta Regional Commission, via the Livable Centers Initiative program: $6.5 million.
Assets located along the streetcar’s 2.7-mile loop through Downtown Atlanta include the guideway and track elements; stations; support facilities, including a maintenance facility; fare collection components; the electrical power delivery system; land improvements; and the streetcar vehicles and parts.
Current employees will remain on the city’s payroll for the foreseeable future, Johnson said.
“There won’t be any major change in terms of our personnel,” Johnson said. “Those folks will remain on the city’s payroll for a period of time.
“We think it will take a year or so to transition,” Johnson said. “There are a number of discussions that we’ll have to do, and logistics – deal with the assets, get approval from GDOT [Georgia Department of Transportation] and FTA.”
In the only other discussion of the streetcar during the Transportation Committee meeting, Hall asked about efforts to prevent drivers from parking their vehicles in the path of the streetcar.
Johnson responded that the protocol calls for the streetcar operator to sound a horn to attract the driver’s attention, and to call for assistance to have the vehicle ticketed and towed.