The first of Atlanta’s Streetcar vehicles has been repaired and will be back on the streets of downtown Atlanta for testing Feb. 28, and anticipated to be used for service on March 2. Additional streetcar vehicles will return to service as they are repaired.
MARTA removed the four streetcar vehicles from service on Nov. 29, after engineers discovered wheel degradation that could pose a safety risk. During a board meeting in December, Deputy Chief Mechanical Officer Daniel Hecht explained that regular wear and tear of the wheel profile first noticed in 2021 caused issues with the track switch, where some bolts were found to be loosened and there was damage to the concrete close to the platform.
Hecht explained that when the wheel issue was first discovered, MARTA had planned to have the wheels replaced, however, due to a worldwide wheel shortage the work was pushed into this year after its supplier, Siemens, was able to finally procure the wheels.
The original plan was to ship the vehicles out one at a time to have the wheels replaced, but when routine track inspections found the issues with the switch, the decision was made to place a safety hold and expedite the wheel replacement across the entire streetcar fleet.
Hecht added the decision was made because of the risk associated with the continued degradation of the wheels, to protect the public and the brand name, to protect the track after the issues were identified, and to “walk the walk” that MARTA is a safety-oriented organization.
MARTA shuttle vans, wrapped to look like the streetcar, will continue servicing the route as the streetcar vehicles return to service.
The cost of the replacement wheels is approximately $400,000 and being paid through MARTA’s capital budget.