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Washington, DC Streetcars to Get Rolling in November

In an effort to provide more transportation options for Washington, DC home owners, the District Department of Transportation has been working overtime on the first line of the proposed DC streetcar network. After months of delays, the first line is finally nearing completion and will run a route along H Street behind Union Station and then continue along Benning Road to Oklahoma Avenue. Officials have not announced an official start date for the new line, but remain hopeful that November will be the month in which things can finally get rolling. 

Before passengers are actually allowed on the trains, operators are performing a series of test runs. The purpose of these runs is to not only prepare the operators for service, but also car drivers, bus operators and bike riders who will be commuting alongside the new trains.

“How do you acclimate people that we’re putting a streetcar back in? . . .We can’t move off the track. We can’t turn right or left,” said Lou Brusati, of RATP Dev McDonald Transit, to The Washington Post. “That’s what we’re going for, that learning curve.”

Streetcar Will Be An Adjustment For Washington, DC Commuters

When considering what kind of options the city had for creating better commutes for its area home owners, city officials were strongly attracted to streetcars for their sustainable travel practices and the encouragement of economic development in the areas that the lines will be built around. However, in the months and years since the project began, the new streetcar line has been faced with many challenges that have been difficult to overcome.

The H Street/Benning Road Line, the first in a proposed 22-mile network around the city, was supposed to be in full service in spring 2014, however delays in construction and safety certifications have kept rail officials from keeping their promises.

“We were able to move from systems integration testing to the operator training and now on to pre-revenue operations,” said Thomas Perry, DDOT’s program manager for streetcar engineering and construction, to The Washington Post. “We are excited that we are hitting those milestones, but we want to make sure that we are cautiously optimistic.”

Although the delays have been frustrating, it has allowed the city’s residents and commuters to get used to a new presence on the road.
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