You can argue several points about the viability, cost, and efficiency of the service, but I've heard a new take on the Streetcars that has really gotten under my skin. Apparently, it bothers some of the streetcar drivers that Atlanta's homeless citizens are sleeping on the Streetcar as it travels around the loop it calls home.
For the time being, it's free to ride on the Streetcar. It's a (good, in my opinion) way to promote ridership while the service is new and exciting. The unintended consequence of this decision is a homeless man or woman climbs on board, and dozes off. The drivers feel this could be safety concern, and want it stopped somehow. City officials have said they can't do anything, since sleeping in public isn't disorderly conduct.
The thing about it that really ticks me off is this: Instead of finding out why they are homeless, or what we could do to help them, let's just... get rid of them. Somewhere, somehow. If Atlanta is having a problem with the homeless, (and they do) let's try to isolate the issue and resolve it. Utah has done a tremendous job of reducing homelessness, but in Atlanta... just get them off the Streetcar. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
It's not just the City of Atlanta who is responsible for this. It's the churches, the community, and the state agencies that crowd downtown Atlanta that could solve or reduce Atlanta's homeless problems. The solution is fairly simple: identify who is homeless, identify why they are homeless, and give them the tools or support system to overcome those barriers. Can you save everyone? Probably not. But I guarantee you the homeless man or woman dozing on the streetcar didn't decide to become homeless.
I work downtown. I see the reality of it almost everyday. I've worked with people to improve their self-sufficiency, and it's a step by step process. Identify. Overcome. Provide support. And you do it again and again until they can stand on their own two feet. You don't just kick them off the bus because they're sleeping. The irony here is the Streetcar travels through the King Historic District multiple times per day, and we're still talking about kicking people off the bus.
You know where they are; why not step up and offer them some help?