The 5pm Post – H Street/Benning Road Streetcar Line Quarterly Update Meeting

Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

From DDOT:

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the next quarterly update meeting for the H Street/Benning Road Streetcar line is planned for Thursday, April 12.

At this meeting, DDOT will provide an update on the status of the 2.5 mile streetcar line that is scheduled to be fully operational along the H Street/Benning Road corridor in summer 2013. The update will include information about the design-build contract and details on the historic and cultural resources evaluation along the corridor.

DDOT will also be presenting and soliciting public input on the conceptual site plans under consideration for the Car Barn and Training Center (CBTC). The CBTC will be located at the eastern end of the streetcar corridor on the northwest corner of 26th Street NE and Benning Road NE. The conceptual plans to connect the streetcar to Union Station at the western end will also be presented.

Ward 5, 6 and 7 residents, as well as other interested stakeholders, are encouraged to attend this meeting to hear about the latest updates on the H Street/Benning Rd streetcar line, provide input and ask questions.

The information materials that will be presented at this meeting will also be made available online at after the meeting takes place.

What: H Street/Benning Road Streetcar Line Quarterly Update Meeting

When: Thursday, April 12, 2012
6:30 pm – 8 pm

Where: Spingarn High School—Cafeteria
2500 Benning Road, NE

For more information about this meeting please contact the DC Streetcar management team at [email protected] or dial 855-413-2954.

17 Comment

  • How recent is that photo? I haven’t been over there in 6 months or more, but I thought I heard that the streetscape work and the trolley tracks were completed.

  • I don’t get the whole “street car” thing. Can somebody explain it to me? I am thinking it is a huge cost, it takes up room that can only be used by the street car, that could be parking, bike line and extra traffic lane. If it breaks down you can’t easily get it out of the way. It can’t detour around accidents, I don’t get it? We already have buses, they take up no extra room (accept a bus stop) they can pull over to the curb if they break down, they can detour around an accident and they are much more adaptable. They can run on electricity or natural gas. What am I missing? Is the street car going to be free? If the street car is supposed to be a “draw” to DC, I don’t get that either, who cares if you have a street car anywhere other than San Fran? They will end up just as junky as the buses do. What’s the big idea?

    • Actually street cars are cheaper to run than buses, after the initial investment. They are also significantly cheaper to build than underground metros. And I believe these street cars will run with traffic, not in a street-car-only lane.

      The biggest problem with these street cars is that they stop at Union Station, so for anyone who wants to commute in to downtown using the street car will then have to transfer onto the metro. They ought to run it down K street (which I know will never happen) until, say, 23rd or so.

      If people are determined to get around town in a car, then they won’t understand why we need investments like this. However, it’s really in everyone’s long-term interest to reduce traffic by providing alternatives, and street cars provide a stability and predictability that bus routes don’t.

    • Studies have shown that the “street car” thing will create over a billion dollars in revenue.

      • If you actually read the study you would have laughed. It was crediting the future streetcar for billions in induced residential demand in places like Georgetown (suuure) and billions more in development in the the cities already fully developed commercial cores like K street. It was also taking credit for commercial development that is either already completed (Navy Yard) or already in the pipeline (NOMA).

        In effect, that report was completely laughable and clearly written to “sell” the system, much in the same way the ICC was sold to MD taxpayers.

    • do you really want to “get it”?

    • Bus routes can be easily changed with no notice, so there’s no incentive for a business to build on a bus route. A streetcar route is much harder to change or remove, so they’re more like a Metro stop, and businesses are more confident about building on a streetcar route. Commercial and residential businesses.

      • excepting that even some of our current bus lines are based on old trolley lines and haven’t changed for decades and decades.

  • Actually rock creek runner, the street car nerds at GGW have done countless cost benefit analysis of streetcars versus buses and streetcars lose out every single time in terms of lifecycle costs, operating costs etc.

    You blythly say “after” initial investment. Yeah, well the infrastructure costs of building out DC’s proposed street car system is more than a billion dollars. A billion dollars for tracks, stations, electrical power distribution etc and we haven’t even bought the streetcars yet.

    WMATA just bought a bunch of new to pof the line diesel electric articulating buses and they only cost 600K a piece. The standard size diesel buses that you more commonly see are in the 490k range. You could buy 1700 new whiz bang diesel electric articulators (more than the total number of buses WMATA currently has) for the cost of the streetcar infrastructure alone.

    Then you get into the streetcars themselves. The city just entered into an agreement to buy a few more for this line at 4.5 million a piece. You can buy 8 buses for the cost of one streetcar.

    Yes, street cars last longer but the rebuild and retrofit schedule for both buses and streetcars gives the streetcar a 1.5 advantage over the bus in life span, yet is 8 times more expensive.

    Farebox recovery for streetcars is expected to be no higher than buses (~40%)

    Lastly, and what I think is the biggest issue with the whole thing is that these streetcars aren’t getting their own ROW. They share the lanes with t the cars and buses so they aren’t any faster, and in fact will be slower because atleast a bus can drive around an obstacle.

    This city wide streetcar thing, if it happens will be the biggest boodoggle the District has ever seen.

  • the one thing streetcars can do that buses can’t is get affluent people to actually ride them. they are also easier to understand. those two factors are not insignificant in this city where we have lots of newcomers and temporary residents. these people want to live near transportation and they aren’t going to take the time to look at a bus map to figure it out. they grew up in the suburbs or on a farm and the bus is strange and icky to them

    some people of means use the bus. but an overwhelming majority don’t and won’t.

    the streetcar is much closer to being perceived as the metro than it is a bus. you can see the tracks. you can see the stops. you can see where it goes

    • Actually,

      I don’t think you could be more wrong. Look around PoP. The readership illustrates the young professional (i.e. yuppie) demographic that DC has experienced an influx of during tha past decade and PoP’ers are big bus riders.

      To the numbers…
      Metrobus ridership increased dramatically in 2011, rising 7.1% over 2010. Metrorail ridership, however, stayed essentially flat, growing at only 0.4%.

      Obviously the vast majority of the affluent population moving into DC are bus riders.

      The streetcar is a boondoggle of epic proportions and I hope it doesn’t happen as there is no way the District could afford to build it, operate or maintain it.

      • I dont doubt that the PoP population is affluent and bus riders. PoP attracts that people who like the city enough that they are willing to live in non-Metro-served areas and ride the bus. Bus ridership increased 7%. That is great. But maybe if there was a street-car more people might use mass transit.

        Some affluent people ride the bus, many more do not. Often it probably isnt even a conscious decision. They just never consider it.

        DC, MD, and VA compete for residents. More residents = more tax revenue. DC must do things to entice the next person who moves here to choose H St (or CH or whatever) over VA. When the streetcar is up and running (maybe even an expansive system), choosing H St is much more palatable because the difference between Metro and Streetcar is smaller than the difference between Metro and Bus

        • Even if we accept for the sake of argument that people want to ride a streetcar, so what? Shouldn’t dollars and cents come in to play at some point? Every dollar spent on a streetcar is one less dollar available for some other government function. The focus should simply be on whatever form of transportations gets the most people to travel the most miles for the least amount of money. Not what is coolest, or most trendy, or looks good — what makes financial sense. My bet is that buses are vastly more efficient.

      • Look around Ballston, Clarendon, and Falls Church. It is full of people who want to ride “Metro”. You try to sell them on the bus. I’ll try to sell them on the streetcar

  • I bought and moved into a house on Rhode Island Ave last year, partly in anticipation of the new streetcar line. I moved from Ward 3 to Ward 5 and am already spending money in my new neighborhood, renovating my house and patronizing local businesses in part because of DC’s plans to build streetcars on Rhode Island Ave and Florida Ave, so there is an example of a positive impact because of a streetcar that has not yet been built. I grew up in New Orleans and have seen the positive impact of streetcars on the economy and the way of life. Many people would rather ride a streetcar than a bus. Just like people would rather ride metro, because they are so nice. If the streetcars get people out of their cars, off the streets and onto a streetcar, that’s great! Look around DC at the positive impact of Metro, go look at NOMA by the New York Ave metro and see the positve impact of metro – the streetcars will have a similar effect on the economy and the livability of the city. Walk through some European cities that have beautiful streetcars and you may begin to understand how streetcars can transform neighborhoods into something better than they were.

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