Did you hear the news? The long troubled DC Streetcar is finally going to start taking passengers on February 27. That comes after an endless series of delays, driven by incompetence in the project management and not a little obstinance on the part of the DCFEMs to apparently stop the project from ever starting. But all that is water under the bridge, the service can finally start. And it should be pointed out that the city’s plan to extend the streetcar all the way to Georgetown is still in the plans.
Those skeptical of the entire project will continue to be skeptical of any extension. But many of those who question the utility of the project point to its short length. By extending the line through downtown and on to Georgetown, it will connect a whole slew of neighborhoods with a single line.
And the primary complaint about the existing line is that it does not have its own lane. This was probably a mistake in planning, but similar European system have long segments of streetcar lines in shared lanes (e.g. Amsterdam and Munich). Nonetheless, the expansion through downtown in DC will have transit-only lanes (i.e. lanes that only the streetcar or buses will be allowed to use). This will significantly improve the utility of the line.
The question of how and where to bring the streetcar into Georgetown is still up in the air. GM has been involved in a lot of discussions with various parties, and frankly can’t remember what the last likely iteration is, but there will be a push from the BID and others to maintain transit-only lanes as close to Georgetown as possible. This will be especially challenging for the segment between Washington Circle and Georgetown, but it is essential for the system become useful.
Skeptics have a lot to work with over this project, no doubt. But the city is still behind it, and now that it is soon to be finally open, hopefully the public will be too.