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Extending the DC Streetcar from Union Station to Georgetown: “The study will evaluate the environmental and cultural effects of the proposed improvements”

by Prince Of Petworth May 17, 2016 at 3:00 pm 53 Comments


From DC Streetcar:

“May 17, 2016 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Carnegie Library, 1st Floor
801 K St NW

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) along with The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) invite the community to a public meeting Tuesday, May 17, 2016, to discuss an upcoming Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed Union Station to Georgetown Streetcar Transportation Improvements.

Following the successful launch of the DC Streetcar on February 27, 2016, this EA process considers alternative approaches to extending the existing line from Union Station to Georgetown. The study will evaluate the environmental and cultural effects of the proposed improvements. The study is being conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), and will be released by DDOT, FHWA, and FTA in the winter of 2017.


Circulator: Union Station to Georgetown Line (Massachusetts and 7th Street Stop)

Metrorail: Gallery Place Station or Mt. Vernon Square Station

Metrobus: Visit wmata.com

For more information, please visit unionstationtogeorgetown.com. Getting to the Meetings Be sure to check out www.goDCgo.com to learn about transportation options for getting to the meeting.”

  • Anon

    I think it’s funny that, in the list of options for getting to this meeting, they mention the Circulator which already does exactly what the streetcar would do.

    • jdre

      That is, I agree, completely hilarious.

      • Anonomnom

        I mean, I use that circulator quite frequently to go from Georgetown to Union Station. It is one of my favorite routes, but it will also take FOREVER anywhere close to rush hour or even on nice weekends. I personally think (and recognize I may be in the minority here) that after all the money spent into starting the system, we should at least study (competent) ways to expand it. That said, it is hard to see what the street car can do that dedicated bus lanes couldn’t…

        • Chris

          Have you taken the streetcar down H Street? It takes FOREVER on a good day. Each time I ride it I’m passed by 5 or 6 X2 buses.

    • A. Nony Mouse

      And don’t forget that the DC bus system replaced a streetcar system which ran on pretty much exactly the same routes.

      So basically we had a functioning streetcar system but white flight and the car is king so lets bring in buses. But now people don’t like buses so lets bring back streetcars.

      • Philippe Lecheval

        Yep, it’s really dumb. Without unobstructed, dedicated routs for rail transit, buses are far superior. But streetcars are suddenly hip and cool. They’re so Portland, so Euro.

    • logandude

      And of course the DC Circulator is running into problems (two failed safety audits of its fleet over the past year) because they don’t have adequate maintenance space (failed to find space for big enough a facility). Makes you feel really confident about them being able to keep the streetcar running, doesn’t it?

      • Anon

        Maybe they want people to take the Circulator hoping it will have problems which will highlight the need for a streetcar.

      • textdoc

        I don’t recall the recent articles saying anything about the Circulator lacking adequate _space_. The problem was that WMATA was overseeing their inspections, and, well, WMATA.
        In any event, the Circulator is operated by a company named First Union. I’m not sure who’s operating the streetcar, but I don’t think it’s First Union.

  • ParkViewneighbor

    It will be ready for Memorial Day 2046 ! yay

  • Anony


  • Hal

    we clearly haven’t thrown enough money away on this. Great idea, DC government.

  • jdre

    …following the ‘successful’ launch?


  • Nate Smith

    Should be done by the 25th century or so.

  • anon hill east

    Is it April 1 again?

  • anon

    all it needs is a dedicated lane. it’s not that hard.

    • Anonymous

      Fortunately K Street already has dedicated service lanes that can be utilized. Car drivers will go apoplectic, though. Despite the H Street debacle, I’m still very much pro-street car if it has dedicated lanes and priority lights.

      • anon

        same here. streetcars have higher initial costs, they’re cheaper to run, have higher capacity, more environmentally friendly, and are more predictable than buses for investment (i.e, the routes don’t change). they’re a better alternative, but it’s all predicated on getting a dedicated lane. it’s even possible to retroactively make it happen on h street, but you’d have to lose the street parking, which is really peanuts compared to overall traffic on that street anyway. it’s a shame they executed the h street line so poorly though, as it basically killed public support.

        • anon

          oops, there should be a “but” in there:
          “streetcars have higher initial costs, but they’re cheaper …”

          • angry and anonymous jk not really

            I’d be totally down with this point, except in order to install the new streetcars, they had to … tear up the old streetcar rails. Things change, budgetary priorities change, popular opinion of certain transit changes. As implemented, this has been a disaster for those of us hoping the money would be better spent.

        • Timebomb

          Also they’re a smoother ride, which allows them to be more open inside (because you don’t have to hold on to poles for dear life while the driver weaves around traffic and over potholes).

  • Anonymous

    Or we could stop wasting money on this and rebuild our schools.

    • Goo

      Why? Oh right because they were so horribly made twenty years ago. What a waiste of money. Money is not the problem with the schools.

      • Anonymous

        Or built over 45 years ago and never renovated. And has blackboards / bookcases between classrooms instead of walls, definitely no doors. Other rooms have no windows.
        I think you don’t actually understand what some of these schools are like.
        Fixing the buildings won’t solve our problems in schools, but it’s still a necessary step.

    • A. Nony Mouse

      What do you mean? All the schools in NW look perfect. What else do you need?

      • Anonymous

        ?? Plenty of schools in NW need significant work.

  • Anony

    Do they not realize the ridership is mediocre at best and that is with it still being completely FREE. Guess Bowser figured she was stumped on the homeless shelter proposal debacle she needed to find somewhere else to negligently waste taxpayer money!

    • Anonymous

      Union Station to Georgetown would be waaaaaaaaaaaay more popular. The street car would actually go to the densest parts of the city.

  • Irving Streete

    The mobs of people currently crowding the H Street section of the line are clearly calling for its extension across town.

    • Anon

      Out of curiosity, has anyone here ridden the streetcar (aside from once for posterity)?

    • textdoc

      To be fair… mightn’t people actually ride the streetcar if it actually covered a useful distance?

      • Anon

        Would any of you guys use the Union Station to Georgetown line? I live near Eastern Market, and I’d still rather hop on the metro and walk from there to Georgetown, than walk up to Union Station and take the streetcar to Georgetown.

        • ah

          Your best bet would be to take the Orange/Blue line to Rosslyn and then hop in the cross-Potomac gondola to Georgetown.

      • ezzles

        Do people actually use the Circulator that currently covers this route? That would seem to be a better indicator of popularity.

        • wpk_dc

          I use the Circulator from the 5th and Mass stop near my condo to Georgetown often. It’s always crowded. During rush hour it’s slow going because of traffic, which a streetcar’s dedicated lines wouldn’t have to worry about. Lots of people and crowded during rush hour. More-frequent service during rush hour would be great. I’d support the new extended streetcar route — it’ll be a mess during construction but worth it in the long run. I’d say yes!

  • Ben

    If we choose option 4, dedicated lanes, this would be big for the city. A dedicated west to east route straight into Union Station. It would cinch up the middle like a nice belt.

    • Anonymous

      A dedicated west to east route straight into REDEVELOPED Union Station.

      I would love a dedicated north to south route from Silver Spring to the newly developed Walter Reed then along GA avenue Downtown then all the way to the new Wharf development.

  • Franklin

    You have to love their…well, I don’t know what you love but what a disaster.

    Ridership is already falling month over month from its opening, and it is still free to ride. When Atlanta (has a streetcar system of similar length and ridership) switched over from free to charging a $1 to ride, ridership plummeted almost 70%

    The DC Streetcar was more than 5 years late and 2.5 times the original cost and all it is, is a slower, less adaptable bus. The only crew pushing for extension is the GGW set, who have never found an amount of someone elses money too large to spend on something like this.

    • Anonymous

      The street car was built pretty much solely for the benefit of political insiders who bought up lots of cheap H Street real estate back in the 90s and early 00s. That’s it. It was a vehicle to bring in upper-income urban professionals and turn the neighborhood around.
      Any other politicians would have built it in the most needed area (the K Street corridor).

      • anon

        the h street and k street corridors were always intended to be two parts of the same line. a full cross-city line will have significantly greater impact than any particular segment on its own.

        • Anon

          Is there much of a need for a cross-city line anymore though? Seems like people are spending more and more time in their own neighborhoods, and commuting to and from places outside of the core.

          • Anonomnom

            I would say yes. There is still a need.

          • stacksp


    • textdoc

      Chutzpah? ;)

  • The Dude

    Forget more streetcars… Let’s build a monorail to Georgetown!

    • ah

      Look what it did for North Haverbrook!

      • Kingman Park

        By gum it put them on the map.

  • MB

    Choochoo7! Well done Dan

  • Person of interest

    The Bro Express!

  • NearNortheaster

    The streetcar needs to be Fast, Frequent, and Reliable (FFR).

    K Street has a serious capacity problem. Since the 100+ ft wide roadway cannot fit any more cars or buses, the implementation of an effective mass transit system is paramount (each streetcar holds 150 passengers). Alternative 4 has dedicated lanes through 70-90% of the route (excepting Mount Vernon Square and possibly H after the Hopscotch bridge). That should be the floor for building a FFR system (the “no build” option is better than shared lanes in Alternative 2).

    Building from the floor FFR requirements, DDOT should also implement signal prioritization for the streetcars (i.e., lights turn to green as they approach). To conserve resources, the system should use tried and tested overhead wires (if beautiful cities like Paris and Bern, Switzerland can then less-than-historic K street can too) instead of the untested and more expensive battery charging stations they are considering for aesthetics only. Hopefully by saving resources with the wires (and bare bones stations), they can extend the line closer to Georgetown University–not a mile distant. In doing so, the line would be accessible to 7,000+ students.

  • Reality

    I support the expansion as long as it’s done RIGHT. And yes, they should use the dedicated lanes on K street.


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