Streetcars Return To D.C. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Streetcars Return To D.C.

Play associated audio
A D.C. streetcar being unloaded at a testing facility in Anacostia.
Martin Di Caro
A D.C. streetcar being unloaded at a testing facility in Anacostia.

The last time a streetcar ran in D.C. was 1962, but today city officials welcomed them back.

Mayor Vincent Gray and officials from the D.C. Department of Transportation gathered this morning at a facility in Anacostia, where three of D.C.'s new streetcars are being delivered this week for testing ahead of a formal rollout on H Street NE later this year. Over the next two months, D.C. will hire eight people to manage operations and maintenance of the streetcars; they will be moved to the H Street tracks in the fall ahead of the start of formal public service in late 2013.

The streetcars, made by Czech company Inekon, were originally purchased in 2005 and were shipped over to a Metro storage facility in Greenbelt in late 2009, where they remained until this week. Standing at 66 feet long and eight feet wide, each streetcar can fit 157 people—more than a standard Metro rail car. Last year D.C. ordered two more streetcars from an Oregon-based manufacturer; those are expected to be delivered later this year.

Though nothing has been finalized, Gray said today that D.C. might follow Portland, Oregon's lead and offer rides on the streetcars for free—initially, at least. He said today that Portland's streetcar system started with free fares—at one point, Gray said, 85 percent of all rides were offered free—and the city has reaped billions in economic development.

"Frankly from an economic development perspective it might not even be a bad idea to have some of these free to get people to come and see. The idea of getting on here and riding this thing, I think it's going to have tremendous interest value."

D.C. officials have envisioned a 37-mile streetcar network criss-crossing the city, though it will take decades to fully construct it.

NPR

How Tinseltown Got Tipsy: A Boozy Taste Of Hollywood History

Mark Bailey, who detailed old Hollywood's legendary love affair with liquor in his book Of All the Gin Joints, shares stories from a bygone era over cocktails at a legendary Hollywood bar.
NPR

Want To Enhance The Flavor Of Your Food? Put On The Right Music

Researchers at the University of Oxford have discovered a link between what you taste and what you hear.
NPR

North Korea Has An Interesting Offer. And Another Threat

The secretive regime denies any involvement with the Sony Pictures hack and says the U.S. must allow it to help find the real culprit. Or else.
NPR

Hollywood Pros Fear A Chilling Effect After Sony Bows To Hackers

Some in the entertainment industry are wondering if they'll have to be careful now about the stories they tell or the jokes they make in the wake of Sony's withdrawal of The Interview.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.