Continuous Transit for the Congested District

As shown in our preliminary report, the great concentration of traffic in the small area of Atlanta's central business district has resulted in the slowing down of all vehicular and street car movements. During the evening rush hour automobiles, taxis, buses, and jitneys choke the main thoroughfares. The cars are slowed down to a little better than a walk, and pedestrians jostle each other to the limit of the sidewalks and crowd the street intersections. A recent check showed that 14,658 pedestrians passed Five Points during the rush hour. The obvious remedy lies in providing new and enlarged transportation lanes for the vehicles and additional transit facilities for the pedestrians.

By comparing the present car flow with that of the proposed, as shown in Exhibits 8 and 9, it can be seen how the car traffic will be diffused and equalized throughout the business district. It also shows how the turning movements are minimized and eliminated.

A revised plan for the business district is shown in Exhibit 10 A and B . The seven principal north and south streets will then cross the steam railroads overhead. Three arteries will be given over solely to vehicular traffic, viz., Spring, Peachtree- Whitehall, and Washington-Courtland. The other four will care for the street railway and the general traffic. The double decked streets are also indicated. The central north and south thoroughfare is via Peachtree-Whitehall, while the crosstown axis is formed by Marietta-Edgewood.

In order to augment the transit facilities, relieve congestion, increase the street and sidewalk capacity, and make the streets safer for pedestrians, it is proposed that a system of continuous subsurface transit be installed. Two sections are recommended, one on Peachtree-Whitehall from Mitchell to Carnegie Way, a distance of 2,960 feet; the other on Marietta-Edgewood Streets between Spring and Ivy , a distance of 2,300 feet. The total length of the system would be 5,260 feet, or measured both ways, 10,520 feet.

This method of handling local transportation is designed for use in districts where heavy and congested passenger traffic exists. It consists of three continuous parallel platforms, directly beneath the sidewalk, operating endless chain fashion, up one side of the street and down the other, looping back at the terminals. The speeds proposed for the first, second, and third platforms are 2, 4, and 6 miles per hour, respectively. There will be a continuous walk 30 inches wide inside the low speed platform so that access may be obtained at any place on the line.

The first and second platforms will each be 27 inches in width, while the outside platform will be 57 inches wide and will be provided with seats spaced 32 inches from center to center, each accommodating two passengers. The total width of the three platforms assembled will be 9 feet and 3 inches, and the height of the platform above the rail is less than 12 inches. The second and third platforms overlap the adjoining platforms about one inch.

Each loop is made up of a series of small trucks about 8 feet long with circular ends fitting exaclty into each other. The trucks are ingeniously supported at one end with two independent wheels on ball bearings and connected at the other end to the preceding truck by a universal coupling. The floors are of compressed sheet metal covered with anti-slip mastic.

Two methods of propulsion may be employed, either by the use of an induction motor or by rack and pinions. In the first instance, the secondary or rotating element of an induction motor is made in straight sections 8 feet long and placed under the platforms forming a continuous secondary. The stationary or primary part of the motor is made in sections 5 feet long and placed between the rails in groups about 140 feet apart with an air gap of 3/16 inch between the primary and secondary. Both elements are made adjustable so as to preserve the air gap. The motor elements are supplied with three phase alternating current with a frequency of 37.5 cycles per second for the high speed platform. The two and four mile platforms are to be driven in this manner with the identical construction but with the frequency reduced to 12.5 and 25 cycles, respectively.

If the rack and pinion method is used, the racks will be continuous and mouned on the under side of the platforms in the same manner as the secondary element in the induction drive. The installation of the driving units will be grouped at intervals of from 1,000 to 1,500 feet. We believe the imployment of the induction drive method to be the more simple, satisfactory, and efficient. In both methods of drive, however, the wearing parts are few, light, and easily lubricated, making maintenance a relatively small item.

In operation, the passenger boarding the moving platform steps from the stationary walk or station to the first platform which is travelling at 2 miles per hour, then to the second which is traveling at 4 miles per hour, and finally to the third which is travelling 6 miles per hour where he takes a seat and is transported in comfort and safety, at a rate of speed nearly twice as fast as he can walk. In alighting the reverse order is followed. Beyond the familiar caution to "watch your step" no special experience is required by passengers.

In the event that a higher rate of speed is found advisable in the future, it may be increased to 2.5, 5, and 7.5 miles per hour, or even 3,6 and 9 miles. Considering the comparatively short distances involved in the Atlanta plan, it is believed that the speeds of 2, 4, and 6 will be found eminently satisfactory.

The moving platform, including the stationary walk, requires a clear space 12 feet wide and 9 feet high, including the rails. Entracnce stairways can be constructed on both sides of every street intersection and basement entrances from important stores and the big buildings at intermediate points. With the stationary walk, practically a continuous station is provided the entire length of the line. This will enable the stores to improve their basements and make a continuous arcade. The drawing, Exhibit 10-A, shows the general arrangement, and Exhibit 10-B shows a cross-section.

As the moving platform is designed for continuous operation there will be little congestion or crowding at the stations, the flow of passengers to and from the stations being uninterrupted. In case of an interruption in the service from any cause, the speed of the platforms is controlled automatically. Should a platform be disabled from any cause it can be stopped and the other platforms continue to operate at a reduced speed. In the event that the current is off and all movement stopped, there will always be a continuous open walk 9 feet wide, well lighted, well ventilated, and with exits to the street above every 200 to 300 feet.

The installation requires an excavation but slightly in excess of 250 square feet in cross section, as compared with 1,000 square feet in four track subway construction, and the cost will be proportionately less, as the interference with sub-surface structures is minimized.

The total weight of the rolling stock equipment per seated passenger is 350 pounds as compared with 1,500 pounds in subway operation, and the total resistance per ton is less than one-half of that in the latter operation. The seated capacity at 2, 4, and 6 miles per hour will be 23,600 passengers per hour each way.

About 75 per cent. of the energy used in the operation of street cars or local subway trains is absorbed in starting and stopping. This excessive loss is entirely elimanated. The first cost of equipment complete including tunnels is estimated to be about one-fifth of the cost of a four track subway equipped, and the operating cost is about one-sixth as much for equivalent service.

This system of continuous transit among other things will accomplish the following: afford great relief to the present street traffic congestion; will more than double the present sidewalk area of the streets affected; will transport pedestrians 100 per cent. faster, without exertion, in comfort and safety; and distribute passengers from the varius transportation arteries to practically all parts of the business district. During hot, wet, or inclement weather, this service will be especially appreciated by the public. It will afford the merchants and stores along its route double display space with show windows on both the street above and the moving walk below. The basements will become as valuable for salesrooms as the stores are now.

The parking of cars can be virtually eliminated from the streets of the entire central district. In fact, it will be unnecessary to enter the more congested parts of the business district with the car, thanks to this system of transit and the series of viaducts by which the through travel may pass around instead of through this district.

The owners of private automobiles may park their cars outside of the buisness district, step to the nearest entrance of the moving platform, and be quickly transported to within easy reach of any part of the central district. Garages of huge proportions should be located near the platform terminals on the north, south, east and west sides where cars can be parked and otherwise cared for at a nominal expense.

This system of transit should be built by the municipality and the service furnished free to the public.


The estimated cost of the proposed street opening and widening projects in the central district, the installation of a continuous transit system, and the building of the viaducts, is as follows:

   Street openings and widening projects .................. $2,500,000
   Continuous transit project .............................  3,000,000
   Viaducts including approaches ..........................  2,000,000
               Total ......................................  7,500,000

The cost of the street openings, widening, and other improvements should be divided in two equal parts, one part to be assessed to the property benefited, the other to be paid for by the city at large.

The cost of the continuous transit project should likewise be devided in two equal parts and assessed in accordance with the foregoing, one-half against the property benefited, and one-half to the city at large.

The cost of building the viaducts should be divided in four equal parts and assessed to the interests affected as follows: one-fourth each to the steam railroads, the street railway, the property benefited, and the city at large together with the county.

From Page 61 of The Beeler Organization's proposal to save Atlanta's transit system in 1924