Apparently back in the 60’s Washington, DC used to have a fairly cool little streetcar system running throughout certain parts of town. Since I hail from Toronto, which has a robust streetcar system, and even have great-grandparents who drove the streetcars, I’m a huge fan of them! Well it would appear as though I may not have to go back to the true north to ride one because Fenty’s transportation director, Gabe Klein, is working to revitalize the DC streetcar project that started under Anthony Williams but has since stalled.
According to Washington Business Journal, the District is preparing to search for federal funding to assist with the project. Streetcar tracks are currently being laid along South Capitol Street in Anacostia, and H Street NE near Capitol Hill for two pilot lines that were supposed to be operational by 2009, but are now anticipated to be ready by 2012. DC’s still figuring out how to get around the whole ban on overhead wires in the areas governed by the L’Enfant Plan, but let’s not sweat the small stuff, eh? Let’s be excited that this is being talked about again!
The city currently owns a few street cars, which it stores in the Czech Republic, where they were made. With any luck, and a little help from Federal Transportation Director Ray LaHood under the New Starts program, Klein can get those bad boys back to the District and into action soon. He’s also got the Downtown Business Improvement District behind him, which is the partner and organizer of the increasingly popular, and oh-so-cheap Circulator bus line.
As optimistic as we might be about this, Klein admits that “the streetcar system is a very complicated animal,” so it might not be quite as easy as I’m making it sound…