The Atlanta Streetcar is ready to lure (no pun intended) new riders with a special, Halloween-themed tour targeted at Pokémon GO players.
The Streetcar is a low-cost, environmentally friendly bus alternative and a recent addition to Atlanta’s transit system. When it debuted in December of 2014, ridership was lower than anticipated, even though tickets were free. Early 2016 brought dollar fares to the flagship project, and ridership dropped even further. Since then, marketing efforts have sought to engage riders in new, innovative ways. One such initiative is the Pokémon GO Streetcar Experience.
Pokémon GO is a popular augmented reality mobile game where players (aka trainers) search for and catch creatures hidden in the world. The game has a variety of consumable items that trainers must replenish in order to continue playing. To avoid purchasing items from the in-app store, trainers can visit PokéStops, which are tied to real-world landmarks around cities, as waystations of randomly generated goods. Players seeking to restock their digital pantry must travel from stop to stop, which can require a great deal of walking. A fun, fast alternative is catching a ride on the Atlanta Streetcar.
As a part of the Pokémon GO Experience, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening in October, between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., the Streetcar hosts a four-hour tour of Atlanta for Pokémon trainers. The 2.7 mile route crosses more than 40 PokéStops and passes several hotspots for catching rare Pokémon.
Of course, we had to check out the Pokémon GO tour for ourselves. Since PokéStops are linked to notable locations, a bonus of the tour was the ability to check out Atlanta’s famous street art and buildings.
Between catching Pokémon and raiding stops for Pokéballs, it was impossible to keep track of how many PokéStops we passed, but we suspect there were more than the advertised 40.
In the hour we spent on the Streetcar, we collected over 130 regular Pokéballs, 42 Great Balls, and 12 Ultra Balls. In addition, we captured over 30 Pokémon, excluding more common (read: boring) creatures like Pidgey and Spearow.
As a means to rebuild stock and gather Pokémon, the tour was a success. Purchasing the equivalent volume of items via in-app purchases would be significantly more expensive.
Players interested in gym battles, though, may not find the tour to be of great use. The Streetcar travels too fast to engage most gyms, and even at a stop, the delay was not long enough to sustain a full battle. It may be possible to raise or lower a gym’s prestige in passing, but contributing meaningfully is difficult.
We spoke with Pamela DeRitis, the attendant on duty, to learn more about the impact of the tours on ridership. DeRitis noted an increase in overall patronage, but also a shift in rider demographics. Instead of solo passengers, families with children are more prevalent during tour hours. Despite the boost in travelers, though, DeRitis indicated the Streetcar is rarely overcrowded.
To further entice Pokémon GO players, the Atlanta Streetcar is offering free fares from Oct. 28–30 to trainers wearing Pokémon-themed costumes between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Children under 49 inches also ride free.
Psst: As an added perk, Pokémon GO has announced its own Halloween Special. From Oct. 26–Nov. 1, the game will spawn more rare ghost-type Pokémon, and players will get more candies with each catch. The Streetcar’s Pokémon GO tour is an excellent way to take advantage of the game’s holiday celebration.
Planning on taking the tour? Tell us your best Poké-finds!