“Streetcar ‘Pre-Revenue’ Operations Begin Sept. 29 – Check Out the Proposed Hours of Operation


From a press release:

“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today announced the start of DC Streetcar’s “Pre-Revenue Operations” phase—a crucial milestone for DC Streetcar as it continues prepping the system to be certified safe to carry passengers. System Integration Testing and Operator Training is wrapping up now, and Pre-Revenue Operations is anticipated to begin on Monday, September 29.

Pre-Revenue Operations is actual service simulated along the corridor without passengers. During this phase, all streetcar vehicles will run at their projected hours with projected headways (about every ten minutes). Proposed hours of operations for the streetcars were included in a recent legislation package that is now open for public review. Comments regarding the proposed hours of operation can be sent to [email protected] until September 27.

The proposed hours are:

· Monday-Thursday: 6:00 a.m. – midnight

· Friday: 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

· Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

· Sundays and Holidays: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians can expect to see streetcars with greater frequency during this phase and are reminded of the following safety tips:

· Streetcars share the roadways, but cannot veer around vehicles.

· Vehicles, including delivery trucks, should be sure to park within the lines and use designated loading zones. The Department of Public Works is now ticketing and towing vehicles that impede the path of the streetcar.

· Pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists should use caution as they travel through the corridor.

· Remember to “Look, Listen, Be Safe!” near streetcar vehicles at all times—look both ways and listen for the streetcar before stepping into the crosswalk.

· Never walk in front of a moving streetcar.

· Traffic and pedestrian signals exist for your safety—follow them to ensure your safety.”

55 Comment

  • Wooohooo! It’s happening everybody!

  • I took a tour of the streetcars while at the H Street Festival. Was anyone else disappointed at how small they are? Not much more capacity than an articulated bus.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Yay! I love street cars!

  • I don’t get it. It is essentially at 14 block-long bus on tracks. It has no dedicated lane. It will have to move at the same pace of traffic in front of it. Also, as Eponymous points out, it is actually smaller than a bus. What is the basis for the excitement?

  • The streetcar is more about development than usable transit. Wherever they put the tracks, that is a permanent investment the city has made in that neighborhood and it will likely spur further development. Time will tell if the addition a streetcar route will actually enhance the property values, development potential, desirability, and overall livability of a neighborhood or not.

    • This is correct. The primary goal of streetcar development is commercial/residential real estate investment. By this measure, the H Street streetcar line could be deemed a success several years ago. Streetcars are not intended to reduce traffic congestion. They do create a sense of permanence and a potential benefit for tourism.

      • justinbc

        In some sense they should theoretically reduce traffic congestion, or at least parking congestion. Think of all the Virginians who normally flood into H Street on the weekend but bemoan that “it’s so far”, who can now just metro and then streetcar down to 13th/14th rather than driving and parking in the neighborhood (and then driving home potentially drunk).

        • “[A]ll the Virginians” who claim that “it’s too far.” Really accurate study justinbc. Nice research, per your comment above. You always got a high horse comment to make

          • justinbc

            Drive through my neighborhood on a Tuesday, and then again on a Saturday, and take a look at the license plates if you really care to dispute it.

          • That is exactly what I will do. I am sure the license plates will talk to me and say “it’s too far.”

            Thanks justinbc, you’re great.

          • Anonymous, I think you’re just objecting to Justin’s comment because he’s Justin.
            I don’t think it’s solely a Virginia thing to think of H Street NE as “too far” — it even showed up in the “Sh*t People in D.C. Say” video a while back. But the streetcar can only improve things as far as enabling people to get to H Street NE by public transit rather than driving.

          • Emmaleigh504

            H St is too far! 😉

        • Formerly Broken Jaw

          I hear “H Street is too far” whenever I bring up H St. I even ranted about it last week.

    • I think that time has proven that it has helped enhance the property values, development potential, desirability – as seeing what houses are going for on/around H Street and the development of wholefoods/giant/condos/etc…

      now obviously that isn’t all due to the streetcar and I doubt we (DC) would get the same returns if continue with building streetcar lines..because I would suggest that it was partly due to the hype.

      I’m sort of in the camp that if this is the only line it was a massive waste of money – but did help spur the redevelopment and increase tax base of H street – so maybe a wash- but a massive s**tshow from a progam management prespective. I would like to see them build it across town to GT starting with dedicated lanes after Uniont Station and then build at least one more north/south(prefer two) route and continue with the Anacostia route to actually get some functionality out of the boondoggle.

      • Pfff. Massive redevelopment is happening all over the District, most notably on portions of 14th street where very little has changed as far as the transit landscape. There’s no evidence that the streetcar alone has caused redevelopment of H Street – or, if it did, that its role was anything other than a drop in the bucket compared to all of the other factors pushing the corridor in a positive direction.
        As far as streetcars being more permanent – sure, it’s more permanent than a bus. But it really wouldn’t be all that expensive for the city to fill in those tracks.
        I’m 1000% for D.C. upgrading its transit infrastructure on its own. VA and MD certainly aren’t going to help us put more Metro lines in the city. I just have a huge problem with just about every aspect of the way the Streetcar project is being executed. Everything from the ridiculously long timelines for construction (you guys, London built half of an UNDERGROUND line in about the same period!), to the lack of signal priority, to the placement of the tracks on the street sucks. If we’re going to spend all of this money, we should do it right.

  • I’m not trying to be overly negative here but I still don’t understand the benefits of street cars over busses. I guess more capacity, but you could just add another bus (or do one of those long busses) right? Like, what is the actual benefit that a bus does not have?

  • Other than an intentional “early” closing on Friday and Saturday to stop drunk people from using it, I can’t see the logic of stopping the service before the bars/metro closes on the weekend. Not that I am out that late all of the time, but a lot of people are, and not having to worry about a cab home was one of the major perks I saw in the streetcar.

    • justinbc

      It’s going to stop at 2AM. Surely you can get drunk “earlier” than by 2? I doubt it’s a purposeful attempt to prevent drunks from using it.

    • it closes at 2 AM on FRI/SAT. I’m old so I don’t know what time bar’s close and 2 AM sounds really late to me..but I would run it till Metro closes..what time do they close?

      • I think Metro officially runs until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but I suspect the actual last trains are both before and after that time, depending on what direction you’re going in and from what station.

    • They’re running it until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, which seems reasonably bar-friendly to me. My observation at clubs has been that crowds start thinning around 1:30-1:45, so I don’t think all that many people are staying until/after last call at 2:30.

    • there’s going to be lord of the flys-type mayhem in that streetcar late on weekend nights. no chance i’d ride it.

  • The benefits are mostly in the perception, which ultimately leads to more tax dollars for the city. Nobody knows exactly why streetcars are seen as more desirable than buses. The sense of permanence created by the installation of rail is probably one factor as well as the aesthetics and nostalgia of rail versus bus. The argument for buses is obvious from a purely cost standpoint but as is usually the case, there is way more to it than that.

  • Any information on the headways? If it is anything like Metro on the weekends, you could probably walk the length of the H Street corridor before one comes in many cases.

  • If this project had extended to Chinatown/Gallery Place, I would be 200% more excited. I feel the ridership would have been triple of what it will be now. Union station only has red line metro, rendering the streetcar useless for transportation purposes for 75% of people throughout the city. Unfortunately, this lack of accessibility could doom this project, and prevent the funding for the additional installments of the DC streetcar project. I pray that I am entirely wrong.

    • It doesn’t even get to Union Station. The western end is in the middle of the hopscotch bridge, and then passengers walk 2-3 blocks to “connect” to the red line.

      • Yeah, the bridge station situation seems so ridiculous. It feels like whomever was managing the project “settled” for whatever was thrown their way, instead of finding solid solutions. Where exactly are street car riders supposed to start from and end? Langston Golf course to Giant?

      • Won’t the city put in a crosswalk so you can go through the parking garage and down the escalator to Union Station?

    • I’m a supporter but this also greatly worries me. The worst case scenario is that this fails and kills streetcars not because they are in themselves a bad idea, but because they ultimately half-assed it and the line design was mismanaged from the get-go.

    • justinbc

      That’s working on the assumption that future lines would require positive revenue from this one in order to be built. This is government, not a for profit business, they have taxes to fund those types of things.

  • SkeptiDC

    Are there any other streetcar systems that don’t have dedicated lanes? IMO this is the single biggest issue with the DC system.

    • Toronto and San Francisco both have sections of their extensive streetcar systems without dedicated lanes. However, in both cases, the streetcar lane is in the second lane from the curb, rather than the curb lane. This reduces issues with cars parking; i was on H street a couple of weeks ago and painfully watched for five minutes as a car parked too far from the curb, blocking the street car trying to get through….streetcar operator had to get out, talk to the driver, wait for the driver to pull out and move forward to another spot, then re-park. 5 minutes it took. THis is going to be a Major issue with these streetcars….no idea why planners chose that lane, given all of the car park traffic.

    • It’s been a while since I’ve ridden it, but IIRC, the Baltimore light rail system does not have dedicated lanes for the downtown portion of its tracks.

  • I can’t wait until one is in an accident with a car parked on the side or at an intersection. I think they will regret not giving it dedicated space to run down the center of the roadway.

    • how many days do you think it will be before someone opens the driver’s side door in a parked car without hearing the oncoming streetcar and gets injured or killed as they are pinned to it? streetcars can’t swerve to the left to avoid killing someone, nor can they stop on a dime, nor are they noisy.

      Using the lane they did is totally, completely insane.

      Now, the right answer ultimately will probably be to ban parking on H Street entirely and turn the parking lane into a dedicated bike lane, which actually would make so much sense I suspect may have been the plan all along.

      • This is a really good point. I can easily imagine that at some point parking along H street will be deemed untenable for reasons described above (mainly traffic/risk of injury). I even like how they tried to play the “ban biking on H street” move as a potential counter to possible allegations of this being part of “the plan”.

      • I think that’s where this is going. Get the street car running, have a few minor accidents, THEN use that as a pretext to ban street parking on H Street. They didn’t offer to ban H Street parking initially because they know certain segments of the electorate would raise a HUGE stink about it and ultimately oppose the street car. Tragedy of the commons and all that.
        But if they can show that it’s being done for legit safety reasons, they’ll eventually get the ban they want.
        It’s sort of like the Affordable Car Act – make it so odious and terrible that eventually everyone (aka corporations and small biz owners who are stuck with high health care bills for their employees) is clamoring for universal health care.

      • This is…. sort of genius. I find it hard to imagine that they would ban parking on H Street completely though. The retail owners would cause a riot.

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