Atlanta Streetcar to accept Breeze Card despite earlier reports of conflict, to get new interim director

It turns out that the Atlanta Streetcar will utilize the Breeze Card, despite an earlier report by a top city official that it isn’t cost efficient and resulted in no fares being collected this year. In addition, the streetcar has a new interim executive director, according to a statement issued Thursday by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s office.

Atlanta Streetcar

Atlanta’s streetcar system serves the Downtown area. File/Credit:

A main reason for interest in the fare technology is that Reed told Central Atlanta Progress at its annual breakfast meeting in March that there was one reason for delaying fare collection on the streetcar until 2016. Reed said fares wouldn’t be collected in 2015 because he’d learned of new fare collection technology while traveling abroad.

A month later, Reed’s commissioner of public works gave a different reason for the delay in collecting fares. Richard Mendoza said the lack of technology to collect fares, including the Breeze Card technology, meant city administrators decided to waive fare collection:

Evidently, all issues have been resolved.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Transportation Committee of the Atlanta City Council, William Jones, of the Public Works Department, told the Transportation Committee that Breeze Card machines will be provided at every stop of the Atlanta Streetcar.

Jones is a transportation planner charged with implementing the streetcar, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Here’s what Jones said about app’s relation to the Breeze Card:

Jones cited the Breeze Card as he was explaining on Wednesday a proposal pending before the Transportation Committee to pay a vendor $172,272 to develop a mobile app. The app is to enable streetcar passengers to buy a fare from their mobile device.

The source of funds includes $100,000 in federal funds and $72,000 from Atlanta’s car rental tax collected at Atlanta’s airport. Committee Chairperson Felicia Moore asked for an accounting of how the car rental tax seems to be a bottomless pit of funds that subsidize so many varied projects that can’t pay for themselves. Jones said he will get more information to say how many years the $72,00 fee may cover.

At the Transportation Committee meeting, Councilmember Alex Wan said he’s ready for the streetcar to begin generating revenues: “We’ve run into problems, but we’ve got to starting bringing money in on this project.”

Moore called for an accounting the funds being used to maintain the app for the streetcar. That amount totals $72,000. Williams said he needed more time to determine if the sum covered one year or several years.

Councilmember Natalyn Archibong asked who is in charge of the streetcar. Mendoza answered the same question last month and said he’s in charge. Some on the council seem to doubt that a department head is handling the daily affairs of the streetcar.

keith jones

Jones has updated his LinkedIn page to reflect his current position. Jones’ pending appointment wasn’t passed to the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee when its members asked the day before Jones’ announcement who was overseeing the Atlanta Streetcar. Credit: LinkedIn.

Reed’s office issued the following statement Thursday concerning leadership of the Atlanta Streetcar: