Atlanta Streetcar's test run answers questions

ATLANTA -- The first time the Atlanta streetcar travels its tracks, it will be towed in the darkness of night.

The trial run begins at midnight on Saturday. It's expected to move slowly, and take until 5 a.m. to complete the test.

"This is going to be the first time the streetcar is out on the alignment," explained Sharon Gavin, "To make sure everything is fitting the way it's supposed to throughout the alignment."

Take a look inside an Atlanta Streetcar:

This weekend's track "tow" test is the start. Next is a full power test, followed by driver training test runs. The Atlanta Streetcar opens to the public by the end of the year.

Edgewood businesses like The Music Room are ready, transforming store fronts to billboards

"It's a mechanism to turn their heads," explained manager Keiran Neely.

He expected the streetcar to be rolling by now.

"It's a bit disappointing when you're excited to hear something like this coming along. First it was August and now it's November. At this point I'm not holding my breath that it's November," he said.

We asked Atlanta Streetcar why and when to expect public rides.

"The mayor has said from the beginning the streetcar is running by the end of this year and that's how it will be by the end of the year," Gavin said.

But who will be on board? There's criticism this streetcar is for tourists – and may have empty seats at the cost of taxpayers.

Atlanta city tax dollars are now going to fund the stalled street car project. The Atlanta City Council approved $1 million a year to support the light rail system. The majority of the project is being paid for by a federal grant, but the city will now contribute to that amount.

Critics say this project has had delay after delay, and it doesn't look like riders will be able to enjoy it until fall of this year.

When asked if the delay could put the project at risk, spokesperson Sharon Gavin said, "There has not been a streetcar that opened in the United states that hasn't been used."

Atlanta Streetcar says all test expenses are covered in the construction budget. As for ticket revenue, that's not projected for quite some time. For the first three months catching a ride will be free of charge to help drum up business and encourage riders to try out the city's four streetcars.


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