Atlanta to hire outside contractor to run Atlanta Streetcar

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The FOX 5 I-Team has learned the city of Atlanta has decided to hire a private contractor to run the troubled Atlanta Streetcar.

The announcement was made just days before the State Department of Transportation’s deadline for the city to fix safety issues or face a system wide shut down.

Officials from the city’s Contract Compliance office met with industry leaders today. And, an official Request For Proposals (RFP) for a private contractor to run the system could go out as early as Thursday.

Late Wednesday evening, we tried to reach the state Department of Transportation for comment, but no one returned our calls.

When it debuted as a free 2.7 mile loop from Martin Luther King Center to Centennial Park, the Atlanta Streetcar carried on average 74,000 people every month.

Then the city began charging a dollar and during the first four months this year, ridership was cut in half to some 32,000 a month.  

That is for a system that cost taxpayers nearly 5 million dollars a year to run.

No surprise to long time Streetcar skeptic, city council person Felicia Moore.

“Until it connects to something or goes where people want to go, we're going to have those ridership numbers,” Ms. Moore told us.

The state Department of Transportation, the state’s safety and oversight agency, in a stern letter to the city and MARTA it must fix 60 specific problems including "provide adequate staffing,” "maintenance and inspection of safety-critical facilities," and eliminate "deficiencies in the accident/incident investigation process."

The city has until next Tuesday to meet the demands.