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As streetcar work kicks into gear, details emerge

It's going to be the summer of streetcar in DC, with increasingly rapid progress visible on H Street and at the vehicle testing site in Anacostia.

At last week's streetcar community fair, DDOT representatives presented the timeline for vehicle testing, gave line-by-line construction and planning status updates, and showed images of streetcar station signs, power substations, the car barn, and more. The fair was one of the largest releases of new information in the program's history.


Streetcar station pylon sign. Image from DDOT.

Vehicle testing timeline

Workers at the streetcar testing and commissioning site on South Capitol Street have already started testing the mechanics and electronics of the 3 Czech-built streetcars currently in DC. They'll begin dynamic testing around July 15, meaning that's when streetcars will actually begin to move along track.

Around August 1, the 3 streetcars will be turned over to DDOT's operations and maintenance team for a month of crew training, before they're moved to H Street for on-site testing around August 30 this autumn.

The first of the 3 new US-built United Streetcar vehicles is expected to arrive and begin testing in September.

Line by line updates on the 22-mile system

DC's streetcar plans call for 37 miles of lines, but so far DDOT is only working on the first 22 miles.


The 22-mile system. Image from DDOT.

Work is progressing in 3 phases. Each line goes through alternatives planning, followed by environmental analysis, and then finally construction.

Right now, two segments are under construction, two are in the environmental stage, and 4 are in alternatives planning.

The H Street and Anacostia initial segment are under construction now, with H Street slated to open this year.

Planners expect environmental analysis to be finished this summer for the northern extension of the Anacostia line into central Anacostia, and for the eastern extension of the H Street line across the Anacostia River to Benning Metro.

Alternatives planning is complete for the M Street SE/SW line, and will soon be complete for the Union Station to Georgetown line. The north/south line will begin analysis this summer, with the Bolling Air Force Base extension of the Anacostia line following after that.

The car barn


The car barn. Image from DDOT.

Streetcars will be stored and maintained over the long term in the car barn in front of Spingarn High School. The car barn design is still advancing through the Historic Preservation Review Board approval process, but is now making progress and is no longer facing delays.

Construction will begin this month on the tracks and non-building infrastructure at the car barn site, in anticipation of hosting streetcars later this year. The building itself should begin construction this fall, and open in summer 2014. DDOT can operate the streetcars with the tracks but not the building for a few months, so as long as the tracks at the car barn site are finished on time, the fact that the building will still be under construction this winter should not cause any delay.

Power substations

There will be 3 traction power substations along the H Street line, necessary to keep the streetcar's overhead wires alive with electricity. The substations will be located at 2nd Street NE, 12th Street NE, and 25th Street NE.


12th Street substation. Image from DDOT.

Approval was granted for the 12th Street substation in May, and construction is now imminent.

Keep up to date

It's going to be a busy and exciting summer for streetcars in DC. To keep up with the latest, visit DCstreetcar.com.

Correction: The 3 streetcars currently being tested at the commissioning site will be moved to H Street sometime this autumn, not at the end of August as originally reported.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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The proposed signage is nice, but why doesn't it show the Metro connection at Union Station?

by martindelaware on Jul 2, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

So, extending the commissioning site to Anacostia and extending the H St line would be the next two construction pieces? Any indication or estimate of when that might happen?

by Robby on Jul 2, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

WOW. Apparently 5th St is being moved to be between 13th and 8th Streets. Now THAT is impressive!

Sad that their first PDF has such a major error. I hope they haven't ordered the signs yet!

by Tom A. on Jul 2, 2013 12:32 pm • linkreport

Maybe this is way too much to ask, but it would be really great if DDOT could work with MoCo to take that line #5 past Takoma to Georgia Ave. and on to DTSS.

Failing that, just extending a bit past Takoma to get the DC side of Georgia would be great, since there is a ton of transit-dependent population there--not to mention a lot of transit-oriented development going in.

by Gray on Jul 2, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

Planners expect environmental analysis to be finished this summer for the northern extension of the Anacostia line into central Anacostia, and for the eastern extension of the H Street line across the Anacostia River to Benning Metro.

The map says enviro analysis for the eastern extension to START this summer, not completed.

by Falls Church on Jul 2, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

I keep going back and forth as to whether the streetcar should be extended into the surrounding jurisdictions (Silver Spring, for example). I'm reticent to champion the idea because I fear it'd dilute DC's power/focus on the streetcar as an urban transportation system.

by 7r3y3r on Jul 2, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

@7r3y3r: I think it's exceedingly unlikely anyway. In the case of SS though, it could actually be worthwhile for the streetcar to pull up right at the DC/MD line, helping a lot of people who currently ride buses down 16th and Georgia.

The other place it would be really helpful would be to extend the line from Georgetown to Rosslyn, which is probably even more difficult politically.

by Gray on Jul 2, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

@7r3y3r

DTSS is more urban than many parts of the streetcar system. It's only politically not a part of DC.

by Wilson on Jul 2, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

What is a realistic best case scenario for time to completion (i.e., streetcars in regular service) for the entire 22-mile system?

by JTS on Jul 2, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

DDOT says on twitter that it's not quite right to say the streetcars will be moved to H Street at the end of August. That was based on the testing schedule, which says operations will move to H Street at the time. I've asked for a clarification and will update the post when I get one.

by BeyondDc on Jul 2, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

@Wilson - No, I know. I actually think it'd be smart to connect the streetcar to the Silver Spring metro/purple line stop (and Rosslyn, if that could happen). But it could lead to too many cooks in the kitchen if the agreement is not structured tightly so that the streetcar system doesn't eventually become WMATA and we have to spar with governors.

DC has its fair share of problems, but I'm a huge fan of its extreme localized control (ignoring that issue of congressional oversight/meddling...sigh). We only have to fight one entity: congress, and that's only sometimes. Most cities have to fight the county and/or the state as well as the feds. Integrating VA and MD into the streetcar system includes integrating their political overlords into the decision-making process. That's all I was getting at.

by 7r3y3r on Jul 2, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

JTS, at the streetcar fair, I asked one of the reps about timeframe. He told me they expect the complete, 37 mile buildout by 2020. That struck me as remarkably ambitious, but he insisted that was the case (I was asking specifically about the RI Avenue route). Curious if others have heard other timeframes.

by Brooklander on Jul 2, 2013 1:22 pm • linkreport

I know fairfax connector buses run into Arlington, and Alexandria's Dash buses run into Arlington. And I guess DC Circulator buses run into Arlington. While I guess the streetcars with infrastructure present other issues, there must be a way to resolve jurisdictional questions at boundaries short of creating a multi-jurisdiction governing board.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 2, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

@Brooklander - Thanks for the response...WOW! I had no idea they had such an ambitious timeline. I guess the process gets smoother over time as the streetcar team learns what works and what doesn't across each phase and neighborhoods start to understand what the streetcar system will look like.

Still, though, I bet that number gets pushed back.

by JTS on Jul 2, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

The funding to complete the rest of the Georgetown to Benning line is in the mayor's six year budget. Staff I spoke to were certain they could deliver that on time and on budget.

As for the larger system, a lot of it depends on what the RFQ responses are like. I wouldn't be surprised to see them aim high though, no reason we can't afford a large investment, and hopefully a qualified company can handle the design/build/run/maintenance of the system.

by h st ll on Jul 2, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

Around August 1, the 3 streetcars will be turned over to DDOT's operations and maintenance team for a month of crew training, before they're moved to H Street for on-site testing around August 30.

Wait, what? Isn't RATP at least initially doing the O&M for the streetcar?

The #5 line strikes me as being a lot less necessary than some of the other connections that were envisioned in the past. What sort of need does that line meet that is not currently satisfied by the Green line? I'm sure you could make a case for it, but it seems like DC's east-west connections need a lot more work.

A route (roughly) paralleling the 90 Bus route would be a lot more useful, and would enable many more trips that are not well-accommodated by Metro

by andrew on Jul 2, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

@andrew: It's not obvious in that diagram, but the line appears to be planned to go down Georgia Ave. Once you go south of Takoma, Georgia is surprisingly metro-inaccessible, and the bus routes there appear to be quite popular despite poor service.

by Gray on Jul 2, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

What's going to be funny is when DDOT builds the entire streetcar system before Metro can even get their system repaired to an adequate level.

by Robby on Jul 2, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

7r3y3r, a couple Montgomery County Councilmembers sent Mayor Gray a letter in 2011 hoping to open a discussion of extending the streetcar into Silver Spring. It's the obvious route since that's where the people are and that's where there's an obvious Metro and major bus hub connection.

As Wilson said, Silver Spring is more urban than the D.C. neighborhoods that border it.

by Cavan on Jul 2, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

The #5 line strikes me as being a lot less necessary than some of the other connections that were envisioned in the past. What sort of need does that line meet that is not currently satisfied by the Green line? I'm sure you could make a case for it, but it seems like DC's east-west connections need a lot more work.

Georgia Avenue is one of the top 5 most traveled bus corridors in the city (90 buses are also up there). The streetcars are not just for covering places not well-served by Metro; they are also meant to be a transit upgrade and corridor enhancement for places that already get a lot of bus traffic.

The 90 buses would be well-served with an express bus, which I think is in the works.

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

I hope the eventual streetcar does go all the way up Georgia to Silver Spring, I understand jurisdictional issues is the reason to send it to Takoma but I mean come on Silver Spring makes way more sense and could connect to the Purple Line. Of course the other option is that the Purple Line could come down to in Takoma which would require a change in the planned path.

by Alan B. on Jul 2, 2013 2:09 pm • linkreport

2020 is a shaky viable completion date for the 22 mile priority system, let alone the 37 mile system. As much of the track mileage should be in dedicated transitways as possible, so the streetcar extension projects are tied to the reconstruction and reconfiguration road projects. There will also be delays in public outreach and building consensus & support for specific segments such as the route into Georgetown.

How long will it take to rebuild K street with a transitway in the middle? There must be a tentative schedule for the Benning Road to Georgetown east-west line, but DC DOT is obviously not making it public yet. Still, if the entire E-W line is completed in 5 years, that would be a major accomplishment.

As for extending the streetcar lines outside the District limits, that is certainly being considered given the multiple alternatives in the Long Bridge replacement study that have 2 streetcar lines on the new bridge running from L'Enfant Plaza to Virginia.

by AlanF on Jul 2, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

fairfax connector buses run into Arlington, and Alexandria's Dash buses run into Arlington. And I guess DC Circulator buses run into Arlington.

And the VRE goes into the District, so it can be done.

by Juanita de Talmas on Jul 2, 2013 2:19 pm • linkreport

@andrew: It's not obvious in that diagram, but the line appears to be planned to go down Georgia Ave. Once you go south of Takoma, Georgia is surprisingly metro-inaccessible, and the bus routes there appear to be quite popular despite poor service.

The map almost made it look like the line was running up 14th. Georgia indeed could use better transit (and something to spur development), so this makes a lot more sense (even though I think that the downtown section of the line would see relatively light use -- I'd envision a lot of people would transfer to Metro near Shaw).

A North Capitol line would also be interesting...

by andrew on Jul 2, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

DC shouldn't be planning a streetcar along Georgia Avenue if it doesn't go to Silver Spring. Yes, it makes planning more complicated, but Silver Spring is a huge shopping and job destination and transit hub, meaning it'll generate much more ridership than a terminus at Takoma, especially when you break it down by mile.

Montgomery County's BRT proposal does include right-of-way along Georgia Avenue south of the Silver Spring Metro with a streetcar extension in mind. And as other commenters have pointed out, MoCo councilmembers support bringing the street car here.

by dan reed! on Jul 2, 2013 2:55 pm • linkreport

Are they really persisting with calling it the "One City Line?" It's nothing more than a cheesy Vince Gray campaign slogan.

by Paul on Jul 2, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

Three thoughts for Georgia Avenue streetcar:

a) if Walter Reed in fact becomes more active/attractive, Takoma is a potentially effective transfer station for Walter Reed access to the region via the Red Line

b) which needs to be weighed against the redevelopment and ridership potential associated with an extension north to at least the DC/MD line

c) and both of the above need to be evaluated in terms of the function of streetcar along Georgia -- will it/should it be "pedestrian accelerator" or "mass transit."

by jnb on Jul 2, 2013 3:58 pm • linkreport

@dan reed:

Yes, no reason at all to go up Georgia Ave without a Silver Spring terminus, except of course for all the people who live nearby, and the popularity of the corridor, and the overcrowded buses, and Georgia Avenue's history as a streetcar route/streetcar-oriented-and-developed place to live, and the endless development possibilities around the next 14th St., and all the other compelling reasons. DEFINITELY outweighed by no connection to a town in Maryland.

by MetroDerp on Jul 2, 2013 4:09 pm • linkreport

I thought 2010 was the summer of the streetcar?

by JJJ on Jul 2, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

a) if Walter Reed in fact becomes more active/attractive, Takoma is a potentially effective transfer station for Walter Reed access to the region via the Red Line

If the line just continued up Georgia, potentially to Silver Spring, it would go right past Walter Reed. No transfer needed.

by jmc on Jul 2, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

MetroDerp, I think that Dan was talking about the huge missed opportunities for all involved if the streetcar goes to Takoma rather than Silver Spring.

It's in D.C.'s best interest to go to Silver Spring as the ridership of the 70's bus line implies that many of its residents travel there. Neighborhoods like Brightwood and Shepherd Park would be well-served by the streetcar and by easier access to all the amenities in Silver Spring.

by Cavan on Jul 2, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

Regarding the North/South Line: I was under the impression that the N/S line would remain on 14th in Logan Circle, and would transition to Georgia Avenue via U Street, mirroring the Green Line; however, the DDOT map above suggests that the line would divert to 7th/Georgia Ave well south of U, possibly on Rhode Island or Q/R.

I realize that the map is diagrammatic--for instance, it indicates, perhaps accurately, that the Union Station streetcar stop isn't on the Red Line--but has there been any indication that the streetcar will go to Shaw instead of U Street?

by Steven Harrell on Jul 2, 2013 4:35 pm • linkreport

Alternatively if the jurisdictional issues aren't worth it, why not hang a left on Eastern Ave and go up to 16th St circle or almost if navigating the circle itself doesnt make sense.

by Alan B. on Jul 2, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

@Steven Harrell: I haven't read anything regarding a U Street station vs. Shaw station stop, but it certainly seems more feasible for the streetcar to take 14th to RI to 7th/Georgia. The only route I see from U to Georgia would be to take 9th to V St as I doubt the streetcar can make the turn from Florida to Georgia.

by 7r3y3r on Jul 2, 2013 4:58 pm • linkreport

I would assume the GA line/Takoma to Buzzard Point is also tied into the possibilities around DC United Stadium as a southern terminus.

So many possibilities, so little money.

by Andrew on Jul 2, 2013 5:11 pm • linkreport

On the subject of running the N-S line to either Tokoma or Silver Spring, the DC streetcar website states the following for the N-S line: "The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is initiating an Alternatives Analysis to study DC Streetcar service in a proposed 9-mile, north-south corridor through the District. The prospective line would run from the Southwest Waterfront, cross the National Mall, travel up 14th Street, follow Georgia Avenue, and eventually terminate at the Takoma or Silver Spring Metro Stations, among other possibilities. The Alternatives Analysis will help determine the final route and mileage."

While the map shows the line terminating at Tokoma, the alternative analysis may determine otherwise. Or maybe the N-S line is eventually split and runs to both with 2 interleaved streetcar lines.

I agree with the above comment on the "One City Line" name. That is a political slogan, not a useful designation. DC can't use colors, so they need to work on better names or codes (like the A or 1(one) or S2 line) to help navigate the system.

by AlanF on Jul 2, 2013 5:27 pm • linkreport

The "One City Line" sounds to me like something in an authoritarian regime - we'll follow with the "Glory in Victory Line" and the "Triumph over Adversaries Line."

by MLD on Jul 2, 2013 5:31 pm • linkreport

Wow, they released alot of information. Everybody else seems to want to talk about the north/south line, but I'm most concerned with the east/west line, and what's going to happen in the next year or so. A couple of things really struck me.

First, the west end of the Union Station platform seems to be at the eastern garage entrance. IIRC, the almost completed passageway to the north Metro mezzanine is at the western garage entrance, the one with the staircase. I believe you can see the empty area there where the elevators and staircase down to the underground passageway will be. I mean, it's not a long walk, and who knows when that (badly needed) connection will be built, but still, it seems like the end of the platform should have been at the main western entrance.

All of the carbarn proposals that I've seen have two connections to the Benning Rd. tracks, one that heads to/from the west, and accesses all carbarn and yard tracks, and one that loops around the carbarn and splits to connect to both eastbound and westbound tracks. The documents they just posted have no indication of construction of the loop track.

It seems that they are building a pocket track just to the west of the carbarn,which I've never seen before in the plans, and that to begin service in the morning, a streetcar will leave the yard/barn heading west, then reverse on the pocket track to head to the eastern turnaround, then come back to OK Ave. to begin service, reversing this move at the end of the night. This pocket track would seem to make 23rd and 24th right in/right out, eliminating left turns at those intersections.

I wonder if the loop track was just eliminated as being too complex. It would be a PITA to tear up the tracks to install three new switches after service has started, and I see no construction notices around 26th, where the switches would have to be.

I figured that they would build the three outside yard tracks, and probably the switches and stub tracks to the carbarn, so they could build the carbarn and still run the streetcars at the same time. I imagine that they will have some temporary trailers for offices, bathrooms, etc. until the building is done. The streetcars are new, they should not need any major repairs for a while, and I assume that they can use a mobile lift onsite for any roof mounted equipment repairs, and jacks for any underbody repairs they might need before the carbarn is done.

Still, I don't see this running in 2013. And I'm not sure that it would be a good idea even if they could achieve that. The best case - which means earliest - is probably either right before Christmas and/or right before New Years. There would be tons of riders (and drivers) who had never dealt with a streetcar before, coupled with new streetcar operators, oh, and don't forget the H St. drinking scene on New Years Eve. If I were DDOT, and it seemed like a late December opening would be possible, I wouldn't do it, I'd just say "Okay, free rides Jan. Saturday the 4th and Sunday the 5th, with revenue service starting Monday, Jan. 6th. But honestly, even that's probably too optimistic.

(Not that I really mind, but I haven't had to do the Metro question to post the last several times.)

by kinverson on Jul 2, 2013 6:07 pm • linkreport

Just one more thing:

2020 is a shaky viable completion date for the 22 mile priority system, let alone the 37 mile system

I think 2020 is do-able, if perhaps a bit optimistic, for the 22m system. There are alot of interest groups that want the two main north/south and east/west lines built. It does seem like there's alot of hostility towards the streetcar EOTR at the moment, but I think that alot of people will change their minds once they see the success of the initial lines. But yeah, we would be lucky to see the full 37m system by 2030-2035.

by kinverson on Jul 2, 2013 6:42 pm • linkreport

"It's in D.C.'s best interest to go to Silver Spring as the ridership of the 70's bus line implies that many of its residents travel there."

Because there isn't anything along Ga Ave. now but the Walter Reed development should be a destination for shopping etc. It's our streetcar initiative so why the impetus to dispatch people out of the district? Putting the terminus in Takoma will probably attract more MD residents to shop at Walter Reed than putting it in Silver Spring.

by Bob See on Jul 2, 2013 10:37 pm • linkreport

I'm trying to follow the discussion here and one thought keeps occurring to me. The streetcar is no substitute for the Metro. It is at best, a supplement -- going where Metro does not and, hopefully, also making Metro more accessible.

The debate between a Takoma and Silver Spring terminus isn't so cut and dried in this light, to me. It seems to me that no one is really focusing on why one would be better than another.

If it connects with Takoma Metro then it would be a way to connect some folks to a Metro line that goes to Silver Spring -- and could even be quicker than riding the Metro all the way, though the transfer might make that questionable. There is also the convenience and perhaps cost savings in not having to switch that might make some choose to ride the streetcar in lieu of driving.

For those heading into the city, I'm not sure how much benefit is gained by an extension -- what role it would serve that isn't served by Metro, which would be faster. Here's what I come up with -- if the streetcar goes to Silver Spring, it might make the Metro more accessible to people who live north of the proposed Takoma terminus. Additionally, the streetcar could be a preferable alternative for those traveling between Silver Spring and the Dupont/U Street neighborhoods as it would be a more direct route than Metro -- but except for weekend track work, I'm finding hard to believe the trip from DTSS to DDC would be faster by streetcar.

In short, I'm not convinced that extending to SS will make the line hugely more useful, but I'm open to an argument that employs actual facts. If it can reduce the traffic there, then it's worth it -- but why stop at DTSS? There's talk of a BRT down Rte 29 from Columbia, but SS residents are objecting to having that continue through their neighborhood to the Transit Center. So, here's a thought -- why not extend the streetcar through SS to a Park & Ride/bus station to be built north of DTSS -- and probably north of the Beltway, connecting the BRT with the streetcar. Or, at least float the idea -- and maybe that would be the impetus for Maryland to give serious consideration to a light rail connecting downtown Columbia to the transit center in Silver Spring....which I believe would have a far more favorable impact on traffic on Ga. and 16th St than the streetcar itself.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 2, 2013 11:49 pm • linkreport

@Andrew -- I have said this before about the streetcar and the still in negotiations DC United stadium -- I think that there is tremendous synergy there and each helps make the case for the other.

It's not just the north-south line, either. The Anacostia line, if it's extended over the river to go by Nats Park ending at Buzzards Point -- at first blush, seems a bit redundant to the Green line, but if it succeeds in kick-starting development on the south side of the river, might someday even open the idea of Anacostia as a possible location for soccer and baseball fans -- either to gather and party, or to actually live. Just a fantasy, I'm sure, but a ncie one.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Jul 3, 2013 12:07 am • linkreport

I understand some folks think the world ends at Eastern Avenue and don't understand why anyone would want to go to Silver Spring, but if the point of the streetcar is to move people and improve access to transit and other stuff, then ending it at Silver Spring is a no brainer.

40000 jobs. Hundreds of stores and restaurants. And one of the region's largest transit hubs. Takoma is nice, but it has none of those things.

And it would do DC no good to make it harder for DC residents to access things they need or want, even if (God forbid!) they were on the other side of Eastern Avenue. Not to mention that running the streetcar to Takoma would miss Shepherd Park entirely, depriving them of another transit option. Simply put, Silver Spring would generate more ridership because there's just more stuff there that people want to go to.

I don't know if people would take the streetcar from Silver Spring all the way downtown, but it would help connect the long stretch of Georgia between SS and Petworth that has no Metro service.

by dan reed! on Jul 3, 2013 12:17 am • linkreport

Interesting the contrast in comments between two recent transit articles. I see comments on this one that state jurisdictional objections to "our streetcar" daring to journey less than a mile into Maryland following an already established mass transit pattern on existing streets, while there is jubilant support in another article for a 12+ mile extension of the MTA Maryland Purple Line project that would extend 5 miles into Virginia over newly built rights of way where there currently exists no direct transit link.

by A. P. on Jul 3, 2013 8:14 am • linkreport

Because there isn't anything along Ga Ave. now but the Walter Reed development should be a destination for shopping etc. It's our streetcar initiative so why the impetus to dispatch people out of the district? Putting the terminus in Takoma will probably attract more MD residents to shop at Walter Reed than putting it in Silver Spring.

Major transit infrastructure shouldn't specifically exclude an obvious activity center destination just because it isn't in "our" jurisdiction. That's dumb planning.

by MLD on Jul 3, 2013 8:23 am • linkreport

Maybe I am missing something, but Bellamy already stated they are having extensive discussions with all neighboring jurisdictions about transit planning. See here:

"The District is no longer the District. All of our transportation projects from this point on are going to cross boundaries. We're talking to Montgomery County, we met with Prince George's County last week. All of us now realize that whatever we do in our particular communities may have an impact outside those communities. What we're doing on our side and what they're doing on their side have to match," he said, raising the specter of a streetcar line extending into Silver Spring."

http://dcist.com/2012/12/dc_officials_confident_that_streetc.php

by h st ll on Jul 3, 2013 8:27 am • linkreport

Wait, people think that a Ga. Avenue line shouldn't go to silver spring at all. As in never? Not even like a phase 1/2 thing? That's crazy.

by drumz on Jul 3, 2013 8:52 am • linkreport

but if the point of the streetcar is to move people and improve access to transit and other stuff, then ending it at Silver Spring is a no brainer.

Yes it is. Nobody disagrees with that.

However, if MoCo officials want to make this a priority, then they need to do more than vaguely express interest in the idea. Show some money, for example.

by Alex B. on Jul 3, 2013 9:12 am • linkreport

Alex

With

A. The state of maryland stretched on transit expenditure, what with the Purple Line, the Red line in Baltimore, and all the transitways in MoCo

B. The DC streetcar system yet to show local "proof of concept" with the H street line not yet open

I wouldnt expect them to be committing to money on the table, just yet.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 9:21 am • linkreport

I wouldnt expect them to be committing to money on the table, just yet.

Neither would I.

Nor would I expect DC to give up leverage that will be useful to get them to chip in when negotiations heat up down the line.

by Alex B. on Jul 3, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

Now we're talking. At this stage, the discussions would have to be all behind the scenes.

by Cavan on Jul 3, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

Integrating VA and MD into the streetcar system includes integrating their political overlords into the decision-making process.

This.

The Circulator and DC streetcars are essentially a solution to the dysfunction of WMATA, which has essentially morphed into a commuter rail system. Whatever benefits might derive from integration with DTSS or Alexandria or whatever are completely eclipsed by the anti-urban bias of MD and VA's larger political regimes.

by oboe on Jul 3, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

The Circulator and DC streetcars are essentially a solution to the dysfunction of WMATA, which has essentially morphed into a commuter rail system. Whatever benefits might derive from integration with DTSS or Alexandria or whatever are completely eclipsed by the anti-urban bias of MD and VA's larger political regimes.

Do you really need that much cooperation to run a streetcar into Silver Spring? One would think if DC is willing to pay for it they would be happy to have it come there. The issues come about when you want to demand operations money from everyone and then come up with some crazy formula to divvy those costs up. An extra stop and 2/3 of a mile of track can't cost that much in the grand scheme of things.

by MLD on Jul 3, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

@MLD
"if DC is willing to pay for it"

Why would we be willing to pay for it?

by CJ on Jul 3, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

@CJ
Because it's smart planning and makes the streetcar system more useful for DC residents who use it? And paying for it could reduce the intra-jurisdictional headaches that DDOT wants to avoid?

Certainly it would depend on the additional cost, but I have to question why we would NOT want to extend the streetcar to Silver Spring even if DC had to pay for it. So far the explanation seems to be "because it's over in their part," as if Silver Spring is as disconnected from Brightwood and Shepherd Park as the surface of the moon.

by MLD on Jul 3, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

+1 to MLD

by drumz on Jul 3, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

@A.P.
"Interesting the contrast in comments between two recent transit articles. I see comments on this one that state jurisdictional objections to "our streetcar" daring to journey less than a mile into Maryland following an already established mass transit pattern on existing streets, while there is jubilant support in another article for a 12+ mile extension of the MTA Maryland Purple Line project that would extend 5 miles into Virginia over newly built rights of way where there currently exists no direct transit link."

I think the purple line is slated to be built by MTA and then turned over to WMATA. Either way an extension to Tysons would have to be funded at least 50% by VA. Cross(build) that bridge when we come to it.

Silver Spring is different. MD people already have a way to commute to the district, in that area, which is faster and higher capacity. MD and even MoCo are going to see very limited value out of the street car. Silver Spring will, and that is where the funding should come from.

by Richard B on Jul 3, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

"The Circulator and DC streetcars are essentially a solution to the dysfunction of WMATA, which has essentially morphed into a commuter rail system. Whatever benefits might derive from integration with DTSS or Alexandria or whatever are completely eclipsed by the anti-urban bias of MD and VA's larger political regimes."

once again, I don't see that you need a common board with gubernatorial appointees. Case in point, Fairfax and Arlington are cooperating on Pike Rail, a project presumably not beloved in Richmond.

We have several non-WMATA systems running across state lines. All of them thus far buses or commuter rail, so I guess financing is simpler - Fairfax has no trouble paying for FFX connector buses to the Pentagon, LoCo for buses running to Fairfax, Arlington, and DC, Va paying for VRE to DC, Md paying for MARC to DC, DC paying for circulator buses to Rosslyn (does Arlco pay anything for those?)

A streetcar, by its nature, is different. It has infrastructure costs. Its not a one way commuter service, but serves a more diverse ridership. So it probably does need shared financing, FFX and Arlco have worked out a way of sharing the cost of PikeRail - by mileage I guess. I can't see why that can't work between DC and MoCo for a georgia Avenue street car (or someday between DC and ArlCo for a streetcar line over the Long Bridge connecting the 14thst streetcars in DC to PikeRail)

Alex B is on point, that it may make sense for DC to keep a non - DTSS option for leverage, when the actual cost sharing is negotiated. But I don't think concerns about political overlords should deter the logic of cross jurisdictional operation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

" MD and even MoCo are going to see very limited value out of the street car. Silver Spring will, and that is where the funding should come from."

Silver Spring, however, is not a political entity. Even if funding is to come from a tax on DTSS landowners, that will have to be arranged and approved by MoCo.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

@MLD If someone wants nice things, they need to pay for them. As a DC resident, I don't see why I should be obligated to pay for something in another state. It wouldn't be asking much for them to throw in what would probably amount to less than 1% of the total system cost for their portion.

Doesn't DC get some kind of financial contribution from Arlington for the Rosslyn Circulator extension?

by JES on Jul 3, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

"Working with the Georgetown BID and Congressman Moran, approval was given to extend the DC Circulator buses to Rosslyn beginning in September 2010, replacing the former Georgetown-Rosslyn shuttle buses. The Circulator ridership for the route with Rosslyn jumped over 60 percent to almost 800,000 riders in FY 2011. RBIC now provides financial support for DC Surface Transit, a non-profit corporation established to plan and promote affordable surface transit service; RBIC’s Executive Director is the first non-DC, regional member of its board of directors."

answers
1. Yes, financing from south of the river is provided

2. its not Richmond $, or even ArlCo $, but BID $

3. Rosslyn BID is now represented on the board of DC transit, which runs the circulator. AFAIK this has not creaetd any problems, despite all those nasty tea partiers in Richmond - apparently they have too little leverage over the Rosslyn BID. Probably they are not even aware of this activity by the Rosslyn BID.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

that is, I think, the logical model for running DC streetcars into DTSS (and also into Arlington, into PG, etc) A regional board, with appointees from entities providing financing, which will be local govts (below the County level, wherever possible) or BIDs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

If someone wants nice things, they need to pay for them.

This goes both ways. Do we DC residents want to be able to take our streetcar up Georgia Avenue to enjoy what Silver Spring has to offer? Then maybe we should consider paying for it!

As a DC resident, I don't see why I should be obligated to pay for something in another state. It wouldn't be asking much for them to throw in what would probably amount to less than 1% of the total system cost for their portion.

This is the kind of parochialism I'm talking about. Maybe you shouldn't be obligated, but you COULD decide to pay for it because IT ALSO BENEFITS DC RESIDENTS!

The issue is with somehow saying that a 2/3 of a mile extension into another jurisdiction is now "their" stuff instead of a part of our streetcar system that benefits us in DC.

I mean if you take this to its logical end, then nothing would be connected to anything else! Why should we build our street up to the border, we certainly don't want to encourage people to go anywhere else for their economic activity!

by MLD on Jul 3, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

I think there's a basic misunderstanding of why people are saying the streetcar should be routed to DTSS. An example of what I've seen here:
Silver Spring is different. MD people already have a way to commute to the district, in that area, which is faster and higher capacity. MD and even MoCo are going to see very limited value out of the street car. Silver Spring will, and that is where the funding should come from.
A streetcar could be used in both directions, both by MoCo residents who want to go to District destinations and businesses and by DC residents heading to destinations and businesses in DTSS and on the MoCo side of Georgia Ave. The former generates sales tax revenue for DC, and the latter improves accessibility for DC residents. Particularly if/when Walter Reed is redeveloped, that first benefit could be quite a large one for DC.

Which is not to say that SS residents wouldn't benefit, both from increased sales in DTSS and from access to those DC destinations. But unlike DC residents along Georgia, those DTSS residents already have access to much of DC via the metro, and the streetcar would not be able to compete with it to most DC destinations. Where it would help those residents is in providing access to businesses along Georgia, which would also tend to help DC quite a bit since that happens to be an area that DC is working to revitalize.

My basic point is that MoCo should definitely be willing to provide money, but extending the streetcar to DTSS instead of Takoma is by no means a one-sided proposition. This could be a win for both sides if the jurisdictional issues can be overcome.

by Gray on Jul 3, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity: that is, I think, the logical model for running DC streetcars into DTSS (and also into Arlington, into PG, etc) A regional board, with appointees from entities providing financing, which will be local govts (below the County level, wherever possible) or BIDs.

That's exactly my concern. DC builds a streetcar into MD and VA and they require representation (i.e., partial control) over the system. Then MD and/or VA get enough representation to override DC. I'll be comfortable with going into MD or VA when it's made explicitly clear how DC will prevent that from happening. So, great, let's run it to DTSS. But, please lord, do not include an MD representative in the governing body.

by 7r3y3r on Jul 3, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

This goes both ways. Do we DC residents want to be able to take our streetcar up Georgia Avenue to enjoy what Silver Spring has to offer? Then maybe we should consider paying for it!

Yes, noted, but since there are mutual benefits for people on both sides of the line, shouldn't everyone who benefits be paying at least something towards the infrastructure costs? I hardly think that having MD (or VA, in Rosslyn or wherever) as a partner in 1-2% of the overall project is going to create any governance problems.

I mean if you take this to its logical end, then nothing would be connected to anything else!

How? Most of the time when roads cross borders, payment for upkeep simply switches hands. This is why in some cases, roads will go from horridly paved to newly paved seemingly for no reason: it's because you crossed into another county. The road's still there; it's just that someone else is paying for that part of it.

by JES on Jul 3, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

I hardly think that having MD (or VA, in Rosslyn or wherever) as a partner in 1-2% of the overall project is going to create any governance problems.

Depends on how much of a headache that 1% of maintance could cost. MoCo could demand that it be able to make decisions about DC streetcars or something like that, or threaten to withhold if X isn't done or something. It may be worth it to just pay the money and move on especially if its not a large part of the total cost.

by drumz on Jul 3, 2013 12:09 pm • linkreport

Yes, noted, but since there are mutual benefits for people on both sides of the line, shouldn't everyone who benefits be paying at least something towards the infrastructure costs? I hardly think that having MD (or VA, in Rosslyn or wherever) as a partner in 1-2% of the overall project is going to create any governance problems.

Of course; I was only using DC paying as an example of "it could be done" as counter to the idea that it shouldn't go to SS because then we'll have to deal with governance issues.

Some people seem to think that involving other jurisdictions at all is going to lead to a WMATA-like governance mess and that's what we need to avoid. I'm saying if you think that is the end game then there is an argument that the costs of just paying for a connection to SS outright might be less than the costs of governance headaches.

by MLD on Jul 3, 2013 12:13 pm • linkreport

"That's exactly my concern. DC builds a streetcar into MD and VA and they require representation (i.e., partial control) over the system. Then MD and/or VA get enough representation to override DC."

1. DC is going to have 37 miles of mileage in DC. I assume that DC Streetcar will only run (at least in the foreseeable future) a few miles over the boundary into Va and DC. (eventually through running - to allow single seat from Baileys Xroads up 14th street, say, would be desirable, but that no more requires a regional board than does commuter rail running across jurisdictions). So DC would still dominate the board. Or some alternate governance could be created, where Md (or more likely MoCo, or DTSS) would get input only onto the operation of the NS line, say. Or, alternatively, DC could just pay for the line into DTSS, with some more or less explicit quid pro quo like treating Md paying for MARC service into DC as a good enough exchange)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 3, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity, that is a good point about MARC. Maryland will start 7-day MARC service on the Penn Line soon. D.C. residents will be able to go to Baltimore for super-cheap approximately every hour, including on weekends, all subsidized by Maryland.

by Cavan on Jul 3, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

"The Circulator and DC streetcars are essentially a solution to the dysfunction of WMATA, which has essentially morphed into a commuter rail system. Whatever benefits might derive from integration with DTSS or Alexandria or whatever are completely eclipsed by the anti-urban bias of MD and VA's larger political regimes."

If that's so true than why aren't many of the Metrobus routes in DC Circulator routes now. The one Circulator route that replaced a Metrobus has worst service than the previous Metrobus route and is less convenient than the previous route.

by kk on Jul 3, 2013 11:42 pm • linkreport

Having the street car line go thru to Silver Spring should be based on much more than who pays and controls the line. As with Virginia, if we let parochial concerns covern common sense transit routes, we will all pay a lot more for street car lines that fall so much shorter of their full potential. I really hope they think about DC as a region first.

by Thayer-D on Jul 5, 2013 6:45 am • linkreport

I'm sure numerous jurisdictions have dealt with how to put transit rail between
jurisdcitions. PATH trains NY/NJ, Metro-North NY-CT, Masstran Mass-RI,
RTA (Chicago-Gary.), ,,,,

i'd imagine if MontCounty pays for the rail past the last DC stop and some percentage of the ops cost pre-rated to the size of their legs vs teh size of the DC legs

heck the WMATA governance structure could be used as a model

by patb on Jul 7, 2013 12:18 am • linkreport

If we're just talking about short extensions of the DC Streetcar into Silver Spring and Rosslyn, we don't really need to turn to any sort of complicated cross-jurisdictional transit system (ie. WMATA, BART, PATH, PATCO, etc) to figure out how to run the thing, especially if there's no overarching goal to substantially expand the systems into the neighboring jurisdictions.

A better model might be to follow the sort of arrangement that NJ Transit and Metro-North have for operating the Port-Jervis line (basically, a NJ Transit route that has a few stops in New York). NJ pays for its portion of the route and operates the equipment, and NY pays for its portion plus a bit to compensate NJ for the services/equipment that they provide.

by andrew on Jul 7, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

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