Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Atlanta Streetcar wins funding

The effort launched by Lanier Parking Solutions to return the electric streetcar to Atlanta is a go. U.S. Congressman John Lewis announced this week that the U.S. DOT has agreed to grant the City of Atlanta $47 million to help build a streetcar line connecting the convention district, downtown hotels, and major tourist spots. It’s the culmination of seven years of work that began with Lanier’s founding of Atlanta Streetcar, Inc. in 2003.

This is the first step toward Lanier's vision of a complete streetcar system linking downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. The streetcar will spur economic growth and development just as it has for years in leading cities around the world.

In October 2004, a feasibility study funded by Atlanta Streetcar, Inc. found streetcars would encourage the use of mass transit by "completing the trip," linking areas not served by MARTA rail. Atlanta Streetcar Inc., in coordination with Mayor Shirley Franklin, made the streetcar the centerpiece of the Peachtree Corridor Task Force, which moved the streetcar from concept to design. That evolved into the Peachtree Corridor Partnership, which sought funding for the project.

I want to hail all of those responsible for bringing the streetcar back to Atlanta after a 61 year hiatus. The resurgence has just begun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 3 of my life without a car (and with less MARTA)

I am entering the third week of my low car diet and feeling pretty good about it, even with the dramatic service changes that MARTA (Atlanta's public transit system) made last week. If you have not heard, due to financial constraints on September 25 MARTA discontinued nearly 40% of its bus service, reduced frequencies for the rail service and shut down ride stores, bathrooms, and other amenities. The bus I sometimes used (it came once every hour) from Grant Park to the King Memorial Station was eliminated. Now, no matter what, I have to walk the 3/4 miles to and from the MARTA station each day. I am not sure if I have lost any weight, but I definitely feel better.
Actually, I have settled into a nice routine regarding my commute each day. I walk to the King Memorial station on the East/West line and ride the train two stops to Five Points before transfering to the North/South line for a single stop. It takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. Although it would only take me 5-10 minutes to drive, I figure my commute is still less than the average Atlantan who commutes 30+ minutes each way.
During the day, I use MARTA as often as possible, and when MARTA does not work for me, I have Zipcar. I know this is a Zipcar promotion, and Lanier is a Zipcar partner, but I can not say enough good things about their service. They totally rock! Once you have actually reserved a car and used it a couple times, it is amazingly convenient. The only complaint I have is that there are not enough cars. The last time I reserved a Zipcar, I had to get on MARTA and ride to the nearest available vehicle. I have spoken to Sonny DelGrosso the Zipcar Markeitng Manager, and he assured me more cars are on the way.
Only 13 more days in my diet, and I have to say I am not craving my car. Of course, I have not committed to getting rid of it yet. But that isn't really the point of Zipcar. It's about leaving your car at home more often. Or if you and your significant other have two cars, maybe you can get rid of one.
I will keep you posted as the wrap up date nears.