Greater Greater Washington

The H Street streetcar will take even longer to open than many thought. It's past time for DDOT to be more honest

There's more bad news for DC streetcars: The latest estimates show the H Street line may not open until early 2015. This isn't an additional delay, but rather seems to be simply a more genuine timeline of how long the remaining work will take. That's a step forward. Unfortunately, DDOT is still not being fully forthright about what's going on.


DC streetcars at the Anacostia testing & commissioning site. Photo by Dan Malouff.

What's left to do, and how long it will take

The streetcar team sent a construction update yesterday. It said that crews would move the streetcars currently on H Street back to the Anacostia testing and commissioning site for 6 weeks of vehicle maintenance and equipment installation. That was enough for Aaron Wiener at the City Paper to start digging for more details.

Here's a breakdown of what he found out.

First, the maintenance and equipment phase beginning today will last 6 weeks. Six weeks from yesterday is July 16.

Following that, DDOT will conduct final system integration tests. DDOT hasn't said how long that will take. Since we don't have a timeline, let's come back to this later.

Next, DDOT will train its day-to-day streetcar drivers. Each operator will have at least 30 hours of training, but DDOT hasn't said how long this will take overall. Let's come back to this later too.

Following that, the Federal Transit Administration will oversee final safety certification. In other cities with streetcars this takes 90-120 days, although engineers caution it could be more for DC since this is DC's first time doing it. Let's assume 120 days, or 4 months. Starting from July 16, that pushes the streetcar to mid-November.

Once safety certification is complete, passenger service should begin within 30 days. That puts us in December, before we've even accounted for the integration tests or the operator training.

Unless those tasks take no more than about one week each, an opening date after the new year looks unavoidable.

Honest communication will help regain trust

This may not exactly be another delay. Rather, it seems a more honest account of the timeline all along.

Last year, Mayor Gray trumpeted a late 2013 opening that now appears to have never been technically realistic. Was DDOT under orders from the mayor to hide the true timeline? Or maybe DDOT officials felt pressure to give Mayor Gray overly optimistic assumptions, and the mayor never knew the real timeline. Or maybe it's just taken a lot longer than anybody thought.

Either way, having been burned by this, the streetcar team now seems afraid to give many timeline details at all, forcing reporters like Aaron Wiener to try and piece things together.

But fear of missing another deadline is hurting DDOT more than missing deadlines would. Instead of setting expectations for 2015, DDOT officials keep saying they don't know how long work will take. Washingtonians hopeful to ride the streetcar soon have nothing to go on, and assume opening day is at most a month or two away. Every couple of months feels like a fresh delay.

Instead of one clear delay and one negative news cycle, DDOT's lack of communication have resulted in fresh news cycles reporting mounting delays every couple of months. The press has had an ongoing joke about a "race" between the streetcar and the Silver Line for which will open first. (It looks like the Silver Line will "win.")

DDOT may not know exactly how long every task will take, and it's understandable that the timeline needs padding to account for problems. It's taken longer than expected for Oregon Iron Works to build the streetcar vehicles. Officials say the extra-harsh winter slowed some things down. So did historic preservation at Spingarn High School for the maintenance facility (though in a city where preservation has a hand in many big projects, perhaps it shouldn't have been such a surprise).

But officials should have a general idea of roughly how long each task will take. Instead of giving no information at all about integration testing and driver training, officials could share a range. Instead of leaving us to guess how long until the line opens, they should give a range.

Then, if there's a setback that is out of everyone's control, like a lot of snow, honestly reassess the timeline. It doesn't help to insist that the line can open by July 2013 when it's also clear the vehicles won't arrive by then, for instance.

The agency's inability or unwillingness to articulate a realistic timeline is frustrating, and is clearly having a negative effect on streetcar politics. In 2010, a lot of people rose up to defend a streetcar project which seemed just around the corner. Four years later, there's much less enthusiasm to fight for streetcars, in part because DDOT has lost credibility.

DDOT's problem has now become similar to WMATA's. There's a lot of legitimate work to be done, and some understandable reasons why it hasn't been done yet. But problems and bad communication have caused the public to stop trusting the agency, and fear of potential negative stories has led people on the inside to keep quiet even more when they need to be communicating more. That's an enormous problem. Understandable delays sound like excuses when trust doesn't exist.

This is a difficult phase for any project

Infrastructure projects are expensive, time-consuming, hard on the community, and politically challenging. It's common for big projects like this to face obstacles in the home stretch. Costs and criticism have been mounting for years, while benefits remain off in the future.

Having to wait longer to actually benefit from the streetcar is frustrating. Not knowing how long it will take, or hearing timelines which are obviously unrealistic, is especially frustrating. But this difficult time will eventually pass.

Meanwhile, however, while it's still ongoing, DDOT must shed its fear of disappointing people, and begin to communicate with the public as openly and honestly as it possibly can.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 
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. 

Comments

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It's not taking longer than I thought it would. With a project so poorly organized, this sort of mess was so predictable from the beginning.

by Ken on Jun 5, 2014 10:06 am • linkreport

I realize that the blame falls on multiple parties and administrations, but at some point there needs to be accountability. Wasn't Carl Jackson hired to manage this project? Is he qualified to do so? If not, should he be replaced by someone who is?

The obvious problem with this gross mismanagement is that it makes the public and policy makers less enthusiastic about funding big transit projects going forward. There are very real consequences, so there should be real accountability.

by dno on Jun 5, 2014 10:16 am • linkreport

And have they settled upon fare sales and collection systems, or purchased the necessary hardware? I've been told that this hasn't even been touched yet.

by Ken on Jun 5, 2014 10:17 am • linkreport

Why does it take four months for "safety certification" on street running rail, when 16 year old amateur drivers can use a new road the second the pavement is dry?

by JJJJ on Jun 5, 2014 10:18 am • linkreport

And the Anacostia line was promised for when? DDOT has shown no competence at all on building rail lines. How about giving the job to the people who seem to do bikeways pretty well?

by Dan Gamber on Jun 5, 2014 10:19 am • linkreport

Why does it take four months for "safety certification" on street running rail, when 16 year old amateur drivers can use a new road the second the pavement is dry?

Because of f***ed up "safety" priorities.

by MLD on Jun 5, 2014 10:21 am • linkreport

Looks like it won't open until after Mayor Gray leaves office. Another bad thing for Mayor Vincent Gray.

by Davin Peterson on Jun 5, 2014 10:23 am • linkreport

for the same reason FAA (IIUC) can't include a reduction in fatalities in doing a Benefit Cost Analysis (because we do not accept even ONE air fatality as a base case) while we have tens of thousands of auto fatalities every year. Because a transit accident with a half dozen fatalities gets national headlines, while auto accidents are buried in the local section of the paper (I know, I'm showing my age)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 5, 2014 10:25 am • linkreport

It is long past time for the Inspector General to open an inquiry into DDOT's management of the streetcar program.

by Lurker on Jun 5, 2014 10:27 am • linkreport

@Ken, I believe the assumption is the fare equipment will be that same as that used on the Circulator buses.

I can't help but wonder if the misdirection regarding the opening date begins with the contractors. Why hasn't the media asked RATP (the operator) for comment? Ultimately it is Gray with egg on his face but trying to assign blame between him and DDOT serves no purpose. Everyone who runs DDOT serves at the pleasure of the mayor and are likely just doing what they're told. In my opinion they're all guilty of misleading the public.

by dcmike on Jun 5, 2014 10:27 am • linkreport

OF course there was a big debate about this on GGW earlier this week and DDOT apologists made excuses for 3-4 years of delay but this is exactly why the DC Council is losing confidence in the streetcar program. If you want to see sustained funding for this, bring in people experienced and successful in project management.

by 202_Cyclist on Jun 5, 2014 10:28 am • linkreport

@202: People who know project mgmt and have excellent national streetcar experience ARE on the project, as far as I've seen from their public meetings. But has DDOT let them actually run it and show their stuff, or have they just been getting in the way for two years? As frustrating as that agency is to deal with as a DC resident, I can only imagine how much worse it is to work for them...

by aca on Jun 5, 2014 10:41 am • linkreport

Why does it take four months for "safety certification" on street running rail, when 16 year old amateur drivers can use a new road the second the pavement is dry?

Because if a 16 year old gets in an accident, it doesn't impact whether other people drive. But, rail and airplane fatalities can have a significant impact on whether people use those mass modes of transportation. American Airlines doesn't want to lose business because United had a crash and Portland doesn't want to lose momentum for their streetcars because DC had fatalities.

WMATA was able to prove to its insurance company that the red line crash directly led to a decrease of 6M metro trips and that's probably significantly understating the true impact.

So, certifying safety is a role for the federal government which by its nature, will be a slow, bureaucratic process as are most things federal (but the feds also usually do a very thorough job that's been approved and reviewed by countless people).

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 10:58 am • linkreport

"Why does it take four months for "safety certification" on street running rail, when 16 year old amateur drivers can use a new road the second the pavement is dry? "
--
Because of f***ed up "safety" priorities.
-----

I dunno, maybe it's because those 16-year-olds won't be hauling around up to 100 people while operating a multi-million piece of heavy equipment.

Just a thought.

by august4 on Jun 5, 2014 11:08 am • linkreport

Uh if we are going to have all these delays why not start building the extensions to Benning Rd metro and Georgetown tomorrow.

by h st ll on Jun 5, 2014 11:10 am • linkreport

They shouldn't have given any firm finish date at all...ever. The project was always on a slow burn--it was always going to proceed step-by-step, with long gaps in between each step--and they should have just owned that from the beginning:

"We're putting in the streetcar tracks now because we're rebuilding the street now. The rest's a whiles off. No rush."

"Some surplus cars were on the market, so we bought them. Yay! No rush."

"We're hanging the wire now because we'd like to do a little pre-trouble troubleshooting. No rush."

"The maintance facility location and design is done. Yay! No rush."

"We're going to make a big deal about moving the streetcars to H Street. And then we're going to sneak them back to Anacostia a few months later. No rush! Look at this video of a cat playing the piano. Aww!"

"Oh look at this...ding ding, we're done! Enjoy!"

by Steven H on Jun 5, 2014 11:19 am • linkreport

If you want to see sustained funding for this, bring in people experienced and successful in project management.
DDOT did in fact bring in a large multinational to run this project:

http://www.ratpdev.com/en/

But even they haven't bothered to update their project page for the DC Streetcar in over two years:

http://www.ratpdev.com/en/rdmt

...leading to my previous comment questioning their role in delays, mismanagement, and misinformation. So many seem to think outsourcing public transit projects is just the bee's knees. How well is it working out in this case?

by dcmike on Jun 5, 2014 11:20 am • linkreport

"I dunno, maybe it's because those 16-year-olds won't be hauling around up to 100 people while operating a multi-million piece of heavy equipment."

but their numbers are in the hundreds - nay thousands, and they cause far more death and loss of property.

I do not believe cost POV that examines actual deaths, injuries and property damage, to justify at the same time how strict we are in safety for transit (and air) and how lax we are for motor vehicles.

The only serious counter I see is Falls Church's. One that gets to ridership. But even that is true only because people are irrational in how they react to different kinds of accidents.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 5, 2014 11:21 am • linkreport

@august4, the safety certification is above and beyond operator training.

When a new bus line is launched, do we spend 4 months running the bus on the road without riders....for safety? I eamn, you can never be too careful.

@Falls Church, I disagree. Light rail/streetcars being in collisions is a weekly event. It doesnt affect anyone's perception of rail. Like with cars, its such a common event it doesnt make headlines.

Houston puts out wonderful videos like this every month.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=203hzHUCn94

An Amtrak train hits a car every week or so. Freight trains hit trucks or cars on a near daily basis.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ywPDTJR8M4Y

Shit happens. How does 4 months for safety training help, when the problem is the cars, and not the train?

Why, again, does a streetcar that will move at 25mph in mixed traffic - like a bus - need 6 months of "safety certification", while a bus doesnt?

by JJJJ on Jun 5, 2014 11:24 am • linkreport

jjj,

Maybe I was being a bit too sarcastic.

But as others have pointed out, safety concerns for transit are vast and complicated for good reason, the primary of which is confidence that extends beyond the local public.

If the H Streetcar gets a bad safety reputation, no one will ride it. And no more lines will get built.

by august4 on Jun 5, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

"Why, again, does a streetcar that will move at 25mph in mixed traffic - like a bus - need 6 months of "safety certification", while a bus doesnt?"

Actually, the streetcar will move at an average of 6.5 mph. That's how fast it goes in Portland. I can't imagine it moving any faster in a much denser, larger city like DC.

by Dan on Jun 5, 2014 11:39 am • linkreport

Light rail/streetcars being in collisions is a weekly event. It doesnt affect anyone's perception of rail.

Collisions don't really matter. Fatalities do (whether it's streetcar passengers or peds hit by a streetcar). My understanding is that rail is an exceptionally safe form of transportation in which fatalities are exceedingly rare. Part of the reason it's such a safe form of transport probably has to do with the high levels of safety engineering and certifications that are required. Federal safety engineers are actually very smart people who make recommendations that do indeed improve safety.

How does 4 months for safety training help, when the problem is the cars, and not the train?

The problem usually isn't the trains partly because of all the safety engineering that goes into them. It's a legitimate science with legitimate impact. Also, the 4 months is for safety certification, not operator training. That's separate.

People's houses burn down all the time due to electrical issues. But, if you're going to be a landlord, then you need a certificate of occupancy certifying the safety of your unit because 1) you're taking responsibility for other people's lives, and 2) your unit's shortcomings cast aspersions on the safety of everyone else's units for rent. Similar thing with rail.

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 11:41 am • linkreport

DDOT isn't setting the safety certification timetable - they're bound by FTA regs. You can't run a new transit system without going through an FTA-approved safety certification process.

by M in DC on Jun 5, 2014 11:44 am • linkreport

The streetcar is the transportation mode of the future. And always will be.

by ksu499 on Jun 5, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

"Design/build" is a euphemism for "we'll figure it out and make it up as we go." This sort of approach allows for a quick start, but an unsure finish. The streetcars have been no different. This course was set way back by Fenty.

by crin on Jun 5, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

@Falls Church, that safety is built into the months (years?) of testing the actual streetcar vehicle got when it was designed and built. We know if it hits something no one will die because theyre built like tanks.

How is testing the track for 4 months helpful? What does running the streetcar back and forth for 4 months on the track do that running it for 12 hours didnt give you?

by JJJJ on Jun 5, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

"Federal safety engineers are actually very smart people who make recommendations that do indeed improve safety."

But they don't make policy. They don't determine what a given incremental reduction in fatalities is worth in terms of added project costs. To the extent that added project costs mean fewer transit projects, and more auto usage, we may paradoxically be net increasing transportation accident deaths in the US by having overly strict regs for transit.

I do agree that a bad safety reputation for transit would be a problem. Whats intensely frustrating is that one red line crash leads to millions of fewer riders, many of whom will not be afraid to drive on more dangerous roads. while some of that is an intrinsic psychological problem, I think a lot of it is a problem in the media. We pay more attention to rare, big events, than we do to common small ones.

If anyone with any connection to any news media, old or new, is reading this, pay attention!

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 5, 2014 11:48 am • linkreport

Why, again, does a streetcar that will move at 25mph in mixed traffic - like a bus - need 6 months of "safety certification", while a bus doesnt

That's a good question. There are federal standards for bus safety but somehow local governments are able to meet them in short order. If the streetcar meets all federal safety standards right out of the box, getting certification should take a lot less than four months.

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 11:48 am • linkreport

How is testing the track for 4 months helpful? What does running the streetcar back and forth for 4 months on the track do that running it for 12 hours didnt give you?

That's something a safety engineer would have to tell you. I would guess it tells them something.

To the extent that added project costs mean fewer transit projects, and more auto usage, we may paradoxically be net increasing transportation accident deaths in the US by having overly strict regs for transit.

I do agree that a bad safety reputation for transit would be a problem.

And the reputational impact is the primary reason for the exceptional level of safety engineering.

It doesn't really seem like buses have the same issue because riders are irrational.

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 11:52 am • linkreport

Oh my...

Remember the good ol days last fall when proponents were adament the government shut down was the only reason this thing wouldn't open in 2013?

For the record, I called April 2015 when Gray was proclaiming Christmas 2013. We will see how close I get.

And yes, THIS is the reason the tax paying residents of the District of Columbia and its Council have zero faith in the "streetcar" program.

Arlington residents should be prepared for the same level of failure should the C-Pike streetcar actually break ground.

by Fixie on Jun 5, 2014 11:54 am • linkreport

Don't forget the third competitor in the delayed projects sweepstakes-- the Silver Spring Transit Center. It's just a garage, but it's somehow the most delayed of them all.

by John Thacker on Jun 5, 2014 11:55 am • linkreport

How is testing the track for 4 months helpful? What does running the streetcar back and forth for 4 months on the track do that running it for 12 hours didnt give you?

With the Silver Line, after running the train back-and-forth long enough, they found that the train derailed because it hit a derailer unexpectedly:

http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/silver-line-train-derails-on-low-speed-test-run-in/article_e5c5f1fa-05a5-11e3-8b77-0019bb30f31a.html

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 11:58 am • linkreport

"WMATA was able to prove to its insurance company that the red line crash directly led to a decrease of 6M metro trips and that's probably significantly understating the true impact"

Where was this?

by Bill Smith on Jun 5, 2014 11:59 am • linkreport

@Bill

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/metro-discloses-red-line-crash-payouts-of-16-million/2013/01/11/07ff7a9a-5c30-11e2-beee-6e38f5215402_story.html

The article says WMATA was suing its insurance company for the 6M lost rides. I can't find where it shows whether the lawsuit was successful but I recall that it was.

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 12:01 pm • linkreport

fixie

"Arlington residents should be prepared for the same level of failure should the C-Pike streetcar actually break ground."

why exactly? You seem to be implying that the difficulties are inherent to the mode, and NOT a DDOT management problem. To the extent there are problems that are not DDOT, like historical preservation and the Amtrak issues, I do not see the parallels for PikeRail.

It is true one should be prepared for the POSSIBILITY of delays with any large project, including highways and heavy rail metro lines.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 5, 2014 12:02 pm • linkreport

Oops posted this in the wrong article before:

Here's all the info on all the requirements local governments need to follow to get safety certification for bus transit. I don't see where the timeline is specified but it's a huge list of activities that I imagine could take months:

http://bussafety.fta.dot.gov/show_resource.php?id=4219

by Falls Church on Jun 5, 2014 12:16 pm • linkreport

Just out of curiosity, can anyone who works in urban planning weigh in on how our transportation staff compares to those in other cities like NYC, San Fran, Chicago, Boston, etc? Are the DC folks just a bunch of jokers? And if they are, what's stopping us from being able to poach the best and brightest from other cities? DC is 100% democratic so it should be an attractive place for transit folks to work.

by 11luke on Jun 5, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

It should have been Metrorail tunnel (branch of the blue line maybe?) instead of a streetcar. It would have taken about the same time to build, apparently.

by Alexx on Jun 5, 2014 1:09 pm • linkreport

Alexx and 11Luke,
America's pretty bad in general as far as transit construction costs being unbelievably high and timetables being unbelievably long. NYC's 2nd Ave. Subway is budgeted for 1.7 billion dollars a km while Japan's Oedo line is a mere $350 million. Is there a reason why it costs 5x as much to build a subway in America as it does in Japan? Berlin's U55 is even less--$250 million a km. Paris's line 14 (subway) is coming in at $230 million per km (this is somewhat higher than expected).

It may be the uniquely American focus on letting ever whiner who doesn't want transit near them able to hold up construction with endless lawsuits and appeals that they usually lose (like Seattle's Kemper Freeman). Or just our system of contracting and private partnerships which give perverse incentives to stretch out projects forever.

Japan, German, and France...none of these are low-wage countries. All are known for bureaucratic red tape and high labor union penetration. So yeah, it's weird how subways costs 5-7 times as much per kilometer to build as similarly developed countries (not to mention that they don't take DECADES to complete).

by Marsh on Jun 5, 2014 1:21 pm • linkreport

While the poor *execution* of the H Street project shouldn't affect Columbia Pike, how it performs and people's perception of the service certainly will. The fact that it has no dedicated lanes, no signal priority, no common bus stops, doesn't connect well with places people want to go, may get blocked by double-parked cars & delivery trucks, etc., all of this will hurt the Columbia Pike initiative, whether we like it or not.

People have mentioned the Silver Line "race" but forget that the Potomac Yard Transitway will be opening later this year, so riders will have a chance to ride actual BRT for the first time. Don't underestimate the juxtaposition of buses in dedicated lanes across the river from a struggling streetcar project.

by Sherman on Jun 5, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

"The fact that it has no dedicated lanes, no signal priority, no common bus stops, doesn't connect well with places people want to go, may get blocked by double-parked cars & delivery trucks, etc., all of this will hurt the Columbia Pike initiative, whether we like it or not. "

but the discussion here is of project management. Anway, the fact that has no dedicated lanes A. Is neither here nor there - thats the reality. You have to do the best with what you have. And its not true of the DC line - which WILL run in dedicated lanes on K Street when the whole one city line is finished.

Im not sure what you mean by common bus stops.

PikeRail will connect all the residential and retail areas on the Pike and will connect to the metro at Pentagon City - thus both providing a heavy rail connection, and a link to a major shopping and employment destination. Eventually it will connect to the entire CCPY transitway.

As for the double parked cars, as has been pointed out, lots of other streetcar lines have dealt with those.

I do think the CCPY transitway will be a good thing - buses in dedicated transitways are better than buses in mixed traffic. But the City of Alexandria plans on converting it to rail as densities increase (and after they are done with the Potomac Yards metro station)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 5, 2014 2:14 pm • linkreport

This doesn't surprise me at ALL. I have lived in this neighborhood for going on 12 years. The streetcar was already being touted by realtors way back then. Every time I check on progress, it is always 6 months from now. At this point, I will believe it when I get on the car and ride it down H street. Until then, it seems pointless to keep checking in. Sad that our Nation's Capitol can't get their act together on this project. It is also really unfortunate that the rest of the streetcar line for DC may be in jeopardy (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-opinions-are-local/post/did-the-dc-council-put-the-brakes-on-more-streetcars/2014/06/03/f5cb69f0-eb54-11e3-93d2-edd4be1f5d9e_blog.html) I would guess in part to the colossal failure to have a smooth roll out of the H street line.

by ReneeinRosedale on Jun 5, 2014 3:01 pm • linkreport

Who cares when it launches or how forthcoming they are about the launch date, other than media reporters looking for a story? I mean, do you have someplace to go on H St NE that can't wait? They'll open it for travel when all the pieces are in place, the system is tested, and it's certified to be safe. This project is new territory for virtually everyone involved and is modulated by city politics. If it's the first of next year when we get to ride, that's okay. DDOT is doing a pretty good job given the circumstances, in my opinion.

by JFuller on Jun 6, 2014 8:57 am • linkreport

While the safety certification and the driver training takes time I think the delays here are now caused by the lack of a maintenance facility for the H Street line. With nowhere to clean and maintain the cars it will be hard for DDOT and RAPT to effectively operate the streetcar.

The streetcars themselves may have problems as well. In the pictures DDOT shows of the streetcars when they were in storage for years there is a lot of condensation visible on the windows. If the streetcars were not stored properly, which does not look like they were, moisture build up in the cars could have caused a lot of problems with the mechanical and electrical systems.

by Where is my Streetcar? on Jun 6, 2014 9:10 am • linkreport

For quite awhile the main streetcar yard in Portland was just under a freeway overpass.

by Richard Layman on Jun 6, 2014 11:06 am • linkreport

So the chickens have come home to roost. GGW pushed for the streetcar even though DDOT had done no real planning for it. Now there is another delay because the pieces are being put together after the fact. This whole thing is a huge mistake. The three cars should have been sold on Ebay and more buses that can change lanes and routes when necessary put into service. Even more connections between Metro stops would have been helpful.

I may not be young enough to know everything but this was a no brainer!

by Alligator on Jun 6, 2014 11:18 am • linkreport

AWalkerintheCity: Someone earlier in the thread brought up Pike Rail and H Street's impact on it. I agree the H Street execution/management problems shouldn't affect Pike Rail. However, H Streetcar's effectiveness and its perception most certainly will, perhaps in an existential way. I'd say that's a very relevant part of the discussion, particularly when Pike Rail is having its own problems with community support. CCPY is relevant because the community will get a first look at real BRT, so that, coupled with the challenges facing DDOT on H Street has the potential to change the minds of both what is possible with buses, and the drawbacks of streetcars.

by Sherman on Jun 6, 2014 12:12 pm • linkreport

Sherman

WRT to H Street. Well if no one rides it, that won't look good for PikeRail. OTOH its not at all the same, because the total length of the initial phase of H Street is short. PikeRail's proposed length is too long to walk. Second in terms of development impact, I think PikeRail has a stronger case - H Street is developing rapidly anyway, whereas development on the pike is happening at a much less torrid pace - PikeRail needs the jumpstart to development more than H Street does. Also the pike will, arguably, face total rideship capacity constraints in the foreseeable future, which IIUC, H Street does not. The justification for H Street is much more connected with the rest of the One City line.

WRT to BRT - I certainly hope CCPY can serve as a demo that changes the convo in MoCo, and wrt to DC bus lanes. I don't think its relevant to Columbia Pike, since Columbia Pike cannot have dedicated lanes.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 6, 2014 1:02 pm • linkreport

For perspective, what about the long-ago streetcar operators? How long did it take them to set up?

by Turnip on Jun 6, 2014 7:50 pm • linkreport

this is totally messing with the wavering support for Arlington's streetcar too. Arlingtonians hear streetcar and think: broken promises, recalcitrant officials, and unending delays. not helping.

by jimmy790 on Jun 10, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

If this streetcar won't be doing anything more than an elongated bus, why are we still going through the hassle of building it? Seems like a waste of time and money to me.

by Brett on Jun 10, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

Extent of DDOT's H Street Streetcar project plan:

DDOT manager arrives at work one fine morning and announces "Hey guys. Gabe and Mayor Fenty think it would be really cool if DC had streetcars. Let's get busy!".

Result after 8 years (or is it 9?):

What "result"?

Disclaimer: I was in favor of the project. Emphasis on "was".

by August4 on Jun 14, 2014 2:26 pm • linkreport

What about the streetcar drivers? Have they been standing around on the payroll while waiting for the line to become operational? In Dysfunctional City, nothing would surprise.

by Alf on Jun 17, 2014 6:05 pm • linkreport

Alf: Streetcar drivers are being actively trained right now. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsC3DOH6WYo&feature=youtu.be

by BeyondDC on Jun 19, 2014 3:02 pm • linkreport

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Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

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