The Atlanta Streetcar rolled into downtown on its inaugural journey Tuesday, marking the first time streetcars have regularly traversed those city streets in more than 50 years.
A grand opening ceremony was held Tuesday in Woodruff Park, one of the downtown stops for the streetcar route. Pastors blessed the bright blue streetcar with prayers, a band played tubas and horns and onlookers snapped photos on cellphones.
“You know it’s been more than 50 years since we’ve had a streetcar and cities all across the United States of America are trying to win streetcars,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in an interview. “So it feels good to be opening one and I’m really appreciative of all of the hard work that folks put in to making this possible.”
The streetcar’s 2.7-mile trek will connect neighborhoods to several tourist attractions, museums and entertainment venues. The route includes 12 stops.
Passengers will be able to ride for free for the first three months, city officials have said.
“We’re really excited that the streetcars will be able to bring people around Atlanta, let them visit and tour without being in their cars and be able to appreciate the beauty of Atlanta,” said Meg Sheldon, 36, who lives in the Grant Park neighborhood.
The streetcar’s opening was delayed and authorities have said it was involved in two accidents during a testing period.
Reed and other dignitaries recalled the long process of bringing the system online and spoke Tuesday of its potential to help the city now that it’s finally running.
“Today’s announcement is a perfect example of what happens when you have strong city, state and federal partnerships,” Reed said.
Associated Press writer Jeff Martin contributed to this report.