Washington DC’s public transportation will soon be expanded with a new streetcar system - a 37 mile, 8 line light rail. The DC streetcar will utilize overhead wires on the first two lines and move to wireless operation as the system expands. The first line, the H Street/Benning Road line, is expected to open in early 2014.
Construction Hotline: (202) 210-3700
The District of Columbia has purchased modern streetcars manufactured by Skoda-Inekon in Plzen of the Czech Republic. The cars are able to operate in mixed traffic and easily accommodate existing curbside parking and loading. The District currently owns three streetcar vehicles, now undergoing testing and commissioning in Anacostia. The first of these vehicles is currently taking part in testing and acceptance activities in preparation for passenger service. The testing phase includes the integration of power, communications, and traffic and train signal controls to ensure that all components are safe and working properly.
Each streetcar can accommodate a 144-160 seated and standing passengers. The streetcar’s interior layout is designed to accommodate wheelchairs using wide passenger doors that are level with the station platforms. The streetcars have level floor areas with substantial standing areas. In addition, vehicles can accommodate bikes and strollers.
Goals of the new DC Streetcar System
- Make it easier for residents to move between neighborhoods
- Offer a broader range of transit options for DC residents
- Reduce traffic congestion, parking demand, and air pollution
- Encourage economic development and affordable housing options along the streetcar corridors
Anacostia Initial Line Segment
The Anacostia Initial Line Segment is a 1.1 mile planned streetcar line connecting the Anacostia Metro Station with the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB), via Firth Sterling Avenue and South Capitol Street. The line will include a storage yard and maintenance facility adjacent to South Capitol Street. This segment is being utilized as a testing and commissioning track for streetcar vehicles prior to being put into service. Testing ensures that the streetcars are safe for the public, and their drivers are trained and experienced before passenger service begins. It also allows for safety training with local emergency responders. All primary testing and commissioning activities will take place completely within District Department of Transportation right-of-way, off the roadway, and behind a secure fence with the exception of exit and entry at the storage yard.
Potential Lines – Currently Being Studied
- Anacostia Extension - between the Anacostia Metrorail Station and the 11th Street Bridge, through historic Anacostia.
- Benning Road Extension - across the Anacostia River, connecting with either the Benning Road or Minnesota Avenue Metro stations.
- M Street SE/SW - along the Southwest waterfront from 12th Street SE to 14th Street SW and from the Southwest/Southeast Freeway south to the Anacostia River/Washington Channel.
- North-South Corridor - a 9-mile, north-south corridor that starts in the Buzzard Point/Southwest Waterfront area and extends through Takoma or Silver Spring.
- Union Station to Georgetown - west of Union Station to the Georgetown Waterfront.
A Brief History of Streetcars in Washington DCStreetcars were a common mode of transportation in Washington DC from 1862 until 1962. The first streetcar was horse-drawn and ran from the Capitol to the State Department. In 1888, the first electric-powered street car was put in service and overhead wires were installed around the city. By the mid-1890s, there were numerous streetcar companies operating in DC and lines that extended into Maryland and Virginia. In the first half of the 20th century, the DC streetcar network included more than 200 miles of track. As bus service became more prevalent, the popularity of streetcars declined and service was abandoned in January 1962. Streetcars are now making a comeback to fill in the gaps in transit around the city.
See also, A Guide to Public Transportation in Washington DC