Street Cars Arrive in DC

WTOP recently reported that the street cars that I posted about several weeks ago have started to arrive in the US from the Czech Republic.

Exciting! Rhode Island Ave NE is part of the second phase of development for this street car program. Benning Road/H Street and Anacostia will be the first to have the tracks laid and begin using the cars no later than 2012 (although as the article says, they are trying to accelerate that timeline).

Adding street cars to the Rhode Island Ave NE corridor will bring badly needed accessibility and transportation needs to our area of the City. I hope that they can accelerate the timeline and help bring it sooner! We will need it with a new Target and Costco coming to the area!

6 thoughts on “Street Cars Arrive in DC

  1. I guess this is good news, but I certainly don’t look forward to the construction that’s coming if it’s anything like H street.

  2. Why do we need street cars when there are already buses along Rhode Island Avenue? I can’t imagine it would be any faster or carry more people than a bus. At least if a bus broke down it can be moved. What happens if a street card breaks down?

    Rhode Island Avenue is already congested in the morning. I can’t imagine what it would be like with less lanes. It also means there will be less street parking for patrons of businesses.

    Explain to me again why this is a good idea?

  3. We could all go back and forth, but you can search the internet to find all the information you need on the pros and cons of streetcars.

    The one thing the internet won’t let you do, though, is experience streetcars. If you ever get a chance to ride on the type of streetcars we’re getting you should. I have and they can’t get here soon enough. To me the difference between buses and streetcars is night and day.

  4. There are lots of reasons why streetcars are preferable to buses, Nakisha.

    Streetcars are fixed transit, so developers and residents view them as permanent improvements to the neighborhood, and are more likely to develop around streetcar and subway lines than bus lines. Also, right or wrong, many people have a bias against buses, and are less likely to ride them than trains or street cars.

    A dedicated lane for streetcars means that they don’t have to fight traffic, and can maintain a reliable schedule. Buses must fight traffic, and, while bus rapid transit is an alternative, it also means dedicating a lane to buses. Since that bus lane does not have tracks in it, people are MUCH more likely to violate the buses-only rule and go ahead and drive and park in the bus lane…see Pittsburgh where I have seen countless people drive in bus-only lanes. The point of streetcars (and all other public transit modes) is to REMOVE cars, so removing a car travel lane is not considered an issue. Many if not most businesses on RI ave have off-street parking, and people could also take the street car to those businesses instead of driving, reducing the need for parking.

    Streetcars hold more passengers than buses – as many as 125 in a single car versus about 50 in a bus. Additional cars can be added to the streetcars – depending on how the system is designed – further expanding capacity, where articulated buses provide only a slightly higher passenger capacity (around 70, I believe) and are much harder to drive and maneuver.

    Streetcars also produce less pollution than traditional buses, though hybrid and hydrogen buses are great technologies.

    Since the streetcars are new, and streetcars last longer than buses with less maintenance, it’s less likely that they would break down, and they must have a plan in place for when it does happen. I know they have turnarounds and the like that may be able to serve as a way to remove broken-down cars. Judging by my experience with the historic streetcars in San Francisco, breakdowns are rare (and those things are OLD!).

    Basically, given the way DC is set up, including attitudes and perceptions, streetcars are likely the best transit option for under-served areas. Plus, on a purely selfish level (okay, maybe not purely selfish), they provide a reliable, smooth, efficient transportation mode on the east-west axis for DC, the lack of which is one of the main reasons I would currently choose to drive somewhere.

  5. h street is indeed a mess, but they are doing more than just adding streetcar lines. in fact, the streetcars lines went in so soon because the street was already being worked on.

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