Streetcar Sunday Service Begins September 18

streetcar

Feels like just yesterday it was ChooChoo7 but it’ll soon be six months!

From DDOT:

“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) today announced the DC Streetcar will begin Sunday service September 18, the day after the 11th annual H Street Festival.

This announcement comes as the DC Streetcar marks its six-month milestone this weekend, Saturday, August 27. The system began passenger service February 27 with more than 8,100 people joining Mayor Muriel Bowser for the inaugural ride on the new system. The start of passenger service marked the return of streetcars to the District for the first time since 1962.

“With six months of passenger service complete, the streetcar is ready for the next step forward, the launch of Sunday service,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We continue to be impressed by the ridership numbers and look forward to attracting even more people to the H Street/Benning Road corridor each and every day of the week.”

Monthly data shows the streetcar has consistently exceeded ridership projections. In the six months since passenger service began, the streetcar has carried well over 400,000 passengers, stimulating economic development, tourism and general interest along the corridor.

Along with the addition of Sunday service, the DC Streetcar is also reducing headway times on the system from 15 to 12 minutes. The system is also at full strength with all six vehicles now available for passenger service.

DC Streetcar hours of operation:

• Monday-Thursday: 6 am – midnight

• Friday: 6 am – 2 am

• Saturday: 8 am – 2 am

• Sunday/Holidays: 8 a.m. – 10 pm

The 2.4-mile DC Streetcar line services eight stops from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue at RFK Stadium’s parking lot.”

39 Comment

  • Lion of LeDroit

    This is truly fantastic news. If ridership continues to increase (and hard to see how it won’t, even if a nominal fare is introduced, with the addition of thousands of additional units to or near H Street NE in the next few years), we can perhaps get to 5-10 mins between cars at some point in the medium term. When the entire east-west system gets built out, with the planned dedicated lanes down K Street NW (and they had damn well better be dedicated), the streetcar will (finally) fulfill its promised potential and fill a major gap in DC’s public transport structure. Leif Dormsjo is my new hometown hero. I hope he stays on at DDOT for years to come!

    • “we can perhaps get to 5-10 mins between cars at some point in the medium term.”

      Is this actually the plan at some point?

    • Leif, is that you? It’s hard to imagine another human being in Washington DC who would say that.

      • +1 to neighbor. Is the Lion pranking us?

      • I don’t know why anyone would have anything negative to say about Leif? IIRC, he came in with a project that had been repeatedly botched for the past four years, was poorly designed, and had various safety issues that needed to be addressed. Over the course of a little over a year, he got a punchlist made and published it, updated it as things got knocked out, and brought the system online. How fast did he need to work to deserve credit? Did he need to go back in time for that?

    • I hope they utilize the service road on K Street solely for the Street Car and a dedicated bike line (it’s wide enough for both). That would fix many of the flaws of the current layout on H Street.

      • it’s actually better to put the streetcar in the middle of the road, with both tracks next to each other rather than split in each service road. they’d have to redo the whole streetscape, but this is the better design, and there’s plenty of width to do this plus dedicated bike lanes.

    • Lion of LeDroit

      Lol no it’s not Leif, it’s the Lion (roar). The streetcar project was mismanaged for years. Leif did a fantastic job of turning it around and managing the final (difficult) stretch to get us to a system that works reasonably well and, to date, has exceed initial projections/expectations. Long-term strategic plans – like the complete DC streetcar system proposal or, at least, the east-west streetcar portion of it – are generally difficult to implement in any city in practice (both because of the observed human tendency towards favoring the status quo over anything “new” and the number of interdependent steps involved in bringing a complex plan to fruition), with most benefits of such mega infrastructure projects not obvious to many until years after initial operation or launch. If implemented correctly – which, I’d argue, is far more likely under competent leadership, i.e., Leif – the east-west DC streetcar project, with dedicated lanes for a substantial portion of its route, will tie together multiple disparate neighborhoods of the city and provide improved access to the downtown core for residents of the fast-growing inner northeast corridor. Cities always have to work with limited budgets, and balancing the build-out of desired infrastructure vs. providing affordable housing vs. lowering taxes, etc. is always an extremely difficult task in practice, but on the whole I’d say I’m fairly impressed with DC’s overall plans, trajectory and vision. Given the number of residents who’ve flocked to the city over the past decade (and continue to do so) and the insane competition for housing in the city’s core, I’d say that optimism is generally shared by many. Lion out (roar).

  • So…was it always the plan to wait 6 months and then add Sunday service? Or did it turn out the Sunday brunch crowd has more pull than the Sunday church crowd? Either way, I’m happy to hear this news.

    • They have six streetcars, 3 Czech made and 3 Oregon made. One of the Czech made cars had a crucial part fail just before the start of service. This meant that they only had four cars available for service, since one has to be kept as a spare. So they had to wait for the part to be manufactured, delivered and tested (they’re probably still doing some testing). Now they will have all six cars, so they can run five at a time. That explains the change from 15 to 12 minute headways. The same reason was given for the lack of Sunday service, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Oh well.

  • Any word on when fares will be introduced? It’s still free IIRC from my last trip to H street.

      • No fares coming for a looooong time. Dormsjo was at an ANC meeting a few months ago and explained that part of the reason it is “free” is because they do not have a method for fare collection. They can’t link up with metro, because metro’s system is changing (soon?). They were discussing the ideal of having a kiosk to pre pay, and then you show your ticket when you board. It seemed like they didn’t have any solid plans for how/when to charge a fare, other than it wasn’t happening any time soon.

        • Prince Of Petworth

          If they added fares they wouldn’t be able to boast about how many riders they have 🙂

          • Why would they add fares for such a short distance? Wasn’t the intent to of the trolley to GET people to the corridor(if fully extended)– not up and down it. Do people hop on a bus from one end of U to the other or they just walk- bet if the shuttle was free they’d hop on it.

        • Isn’t that the first thing they should’ve figured out (i.e. fare amount and how to pay) prior to even building the line? Sorry, I am normally supportive of government and the essential services it provides but this is a stellar example of why people are often weary of the spending and waste on government run projects.

  • It’s exceeded ridership because it is FREE! Show me a plan to actually sustainably pay for this other than completely by tax payer subsidies. This is a joke, why is nobody calling them out on it?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I just left a comment about that – yes agree 100%!

    • “Show me a plan to actually sustainably pay for this other than completely by tax payer subsidies.” So we should substaintely raise the gas tax and begin charging tolls on bike lanes and sidewalks?

    • Depending on what you think the impact on development has been it may have already paid for itself. In any case, as mentioned below, transit does not pay for itself out of the farebox, nor do other modes pay for themselves. Certainly in the long run we want some fare revenue from the streetcar, but there will still be taxpayer subsidies.

    • No public transit is sustainable on fares alone, so this is pretty meaningless unless the per-ride subsidy for the streetcar is way out of whack with bus and Metro. Are you just interested in charging a nominal fare for the principle of the thing? Seems pretty silly.

      • I understand that public transit is not sustainable on fares alone but that does not mean it has to be a black hole of endless funding. It isn’t an all or nothing scenario, they should be collecting fares to offset some of the cost. If they feel nobody will pay then they should not have built it in the first place.

        • +1 to Anony. The city needs to stop throwing good money after bad money on this circus. Improve the X2 or X9 ( (I know, I know, different transit systems)- seems like you could add a lot more buses for a fraction of the cost this is, and continues to, cost the tax payers.

          And yes, collecting a small fare, even just on principle, is a good idea. Nothing is free!

          • The X2 is maximized already. It’s running as frequently as it can run. It has accordion buses. They even added a rush-hour bus that makes fewer stops and it’s still packed.

          • the lower cost of buses is definitely not a given. once the system is in place, streetcars are much cheaper to run. there is some debate, but most analyses indicate that the higher capital investment of a streetcar line is recouped via higher capacity and lower operating and maintenance costs, so that life cycle costs are actually lower for streetcars compared to buses. i would assume most studies include collecting a fare in the numbers, but that’s probably a good idea either way.

  • Brooklyn Brawler

    To all of those haters who doubted the streetcar and live NO WHERE NEAR H STREET—-suck it! Has a H street resident, we love our streetcar. And it’s been a huge success and convenient! This is great news!!!!

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Now that’s the passion I like to see when we discuss transportation issues!!

      • Brooklyn Brawler

        Lol . Years and years; months and months of people complaining about a form of transportation they will never use or even live in the area. Like STFU already 🙂

      • Haha I’m hereby officially bringing”suck it” back into my daily vocabulary

    • To put both sides of the coin out there, I flipping hate the streetcar. It slows down the only actual ways to get to downtown from this area–i.e. driving or buses–and makes other ways of getting to work from this area–bicycle or scooter–too dangerous due to the tracks.

      • Another H St resident- I don’t get people who complain they can’t bike on H St. G and I Sts both have bike lanes going in both directions. Is it really that bothersome to go a block north or south? As far as driving, why you’d take H is beyond me when you can take K and skip most of the madness.

        • The lights are sync’d on H Street so that it’s quick to get from one end to the other. There are no stop signs and you don’t get stopped by many lights, because they are sync’d. K Street is two blocks out of the way (I live a block south of H) and during non-rush hours is reduced to 1 lane, and there are buses in that 1 lane that frequently pull in and out of traffic like they’ve got a god-given right to push anyone already in the lane out of the way. It’s a first-world problem, but the point is not everyone who lives nearby appreciates the street car, and some local people really do hate it.

    • While I’m glad it’s up and running, for it to be a “huge success” it would have to have been designed and constructed with dedicated lanes. But, that cake is baked, and I agree that within the framework available it’s doing well.

      • getting the track down is the hard part. upgrading to dedicated lanes wouldn’t be nearly as hard. still unlikely though given the outroar you’d expect from md drivers that are used to bombing down those roads.

      • I wonder what the feasibility of making H St a pedestrian boulevard similarly to Denver’s downtown or Santa Monica’s 3rd St. It would give the streetcars their own lanes, bike lanes could be put in the middle of the road. There could even be bus-only lanes between the streetcar in the near-term (potentially nixed after the streetcar is fully built out to georgetown). Obviously a pipe dream, but I wonder if it could work.

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