PoP Preview – DC Streetcar

Walking home from Chinatown I passed the new Streetcars that will be on display starting tomorrow “May 5 through Saturday, May 8, 2010 at City Center DC, the site of the old convention center”, 9th and H Streets, NW.

Imagining these running down H St, NE and Georgia Ave, NW (among other places is pretty cool).

Whole car after the jump.

13 Comment

  • ah

    As nice as these look, and I do hope for some streetcars, is there a bigger waste of money than buying 3 demo units that may or may not be compatible with the wire technology chosen and may or may not be the vendor ultimately used to produce a larger fleet?

    • Wire technology is wire technology for streetcars, so it’s not really important. These cars can always be used on the Anacostia line (which doesn’t have wire restrictions). Also, DC will likely go with streetcars like these (as they are the ones used in Portland) and DC got a big discount by buying these three streetcars as part of the Portland order.

      • ah

        That argument doesn’t wash. Just because I get a great deal on 2 dining room chairs doesn’t mean I should buy ’em–10 years down the road when I want 6 more, who knows what style will be available.

  • Yeah… I’d love to be proven wrong but I suspect this display is about as close to an operational streetcar system as we’re likely to have for the next 10 years.

  • 10 years? I be we have street cars running on H Street in 3.

  • $3 million grafitti magnet.

    • Right, because all of Metro’s buses and trains are completely riddled with graffiti already.

  • I have been completely asleep on this issue. Why exactly is DC considering streetcars? Is it an environmental thing? If so, are they more environmentally friendly than other transportation options.

    • There’s a new fad that says if you install streetcars then development will migrate to the lines. I remain suspicious to say the least and suspect a real good salesperson or lobbyist is behind it all…

  • I’ll admit i haven’t been following the streetcar discussions. However, I wonder why a system like in Seattle wouldn’t have been selected? There, (most of) the buses run on electric wires in the downtown area. If the bus route extends to an area that isn’t covered by overhead wires, the driver hops out, winches down the overhead connector, flips on the diesel motor, and away they go. Takes about 60 seconds to perform this.

    Seems like having a bus that is otherwise “normal” to retrofit for overhead electric would achieve the same purpose as having these street cars, but I would think would be less expensive and less risky.


    Are there goals for the DC system that this wouldn’t achieve?

  • You’ve got the right idea, but instead of diesel motors, the cars would run on batteries in certain areas.

  • DT-

    This would never work. Don’t you know that bus drivers in DC are not allowed to leave the bus unless under supervision. They might pull a knife, solicit a prostitute or beat up someone in a costume. They are dangerous criminals who must remain inside the bus at all times, it really is in everyone’s best interest.

    Seriously though, they’d never go for it, neither would their union… too much work, they never signed up for it. That or they’d expect a 300% pay increase. Plus it is a major safety hazard, the could sleep through, miss, or otherwise ignore the training session and then end up scratching their finger or something. WMATA is not made out of money, you know and we can’t afford to settle for millions of dollars. Besides, given how most of them struggle to operate the turn signals, not sure I’d like them attempting anything more complicated.

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