So we DC’ers have been hearing about streetcars for years now. You know, the high-tech streetcars that are supposedly coming to save beleaguered passengers from the metro, opening up the world of H Street and beyond to DC residents?? Or at least opening it up for those that don’t ride the bus, since the bus has always, and will continue, to go there. But that’s beside the point. Because H Street is currently being torn up to accommodate these cars and DDOT did a street car viewing show last week, which begs the obvious question: When are these things coming anyways?
Well, the short answer is 2012. The long answer is a bit more complicated. Basically 2012 is an optimistic assessment that, according to DCist, hinges on overhead wiring being accepted by preservationist groups (among other things). These groups want to preserve the integrity of the city and think the wires are hideous. After researching a bit, yes, I guess wires aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but the wire system is the best we’ve got right now.
Greater Greater Washington has a good and detailed write up on the other street car power options, such as ground-level power, and why we need wires now but will eventually have to transition out of them. Check it out, if you find such transport/ power things about your town interesting.
OH yeah, and then there are all the other problems that DCist, among others, mention. Like, since metro is WMATA and streetcars is DDOT, how are smart trip and trip planner going to work, given that DDOT doesn’t use those systems? How are drivers going to react? Are they going to get fed up with 10 mph streetcars combined with buses and bikes? Is the circulator streetcar simply a pretty face that is doomed to break down and need money quick like its sickly metro cousin?? Should this even happen??
Yes, of course it should. The street car is a neat idea. But just remember that DDOT has a lot on their plate before these fancy things can get unleashed on the world, and we want the kinks ironed out as much as possible before we launch them. If we are doing it, we should do it right. Will keep you posted!