Monday, March 23, 2015
The Streetcar (Finally) Catches a Break
The streetcar's had a rough time lately. The District is not currently funding the larger system it had planned to build. It also suffered a small exterior roof fire and managed to hit more than a few cars (most of which had been improperly parked, or were otherwise out of place due to driver error). All of this generated more than a little schadenfreude on the part of many streetcar detractors who then called for the entire thing to be scrapped. That didn't sit particularly well with many H Street merchants, some of whom took to twitter reminding people that they didn't suffer through a multi-year construction project only to have the streetcar yanked before it carries its first passenger.
Whatever your feelings on the streetcar, I think you should read this article that recently appeared in the Washington City Paper: H Street NE May Not Need the Streetcar. Benning Road Does. Let's not forget Bladensburg Road as we ponder Benning's future.
Here's Friday's big news on where things stand: No 'Fatal Flaws' That Would Prevent Streetcar From Starting Service (WAMU). That title comes from the American Public Transportation Association's findings that the streetcar could be ready to start passenger service once the District follows the recommendations contained in the final report (due out soon). The article contains a particularly telling quote from DDOT's new chief Leif Dormsjo who told WAMU that: “Before, I didn’t have enough credible, expert advice to know whether we were a ‘go’ or ‘no go.’ I really now feel we are a go."
The Washington Post looks at those 18 recommendations: District wrestling with how to fix streetcar line’s numerous flaws. The bottom line is that we won't see passenger service on the H Street streetcar for month, but it will eventually happen.
The streetcar has a had a rough couple of months (ok, a rough start generally) and this New York Times article has been making the rounds on social media: Streetcar Revival Is Wavering in Some Cities. Locally we also had a Washington Post piece by Clinton Yates: Mayor Bowser should shut down streetcar operation, concede it was a bad idea. That last one generated a lot of Twitter chatter. Some people agreed with Yates, others took issue with a number of points he made. Towards the end Yates writes that "very few things are open [on H Street] during the day." This line made me pause because although H Street is no 14th and U Street NW, there are plenty of stores, restaurants, and service providers open on H Street during weekdays.
If you support the streetcar project, here are a couple of related petitions you might want to sign:
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen petition
Move On petition