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Ten years and $190 million later, the H Street streetcar line hovers between life and death. District transportation boss Leif Dormsjo won’t rule out ending it entirely. Meanwhile, the empty streetcars go up and down H Street NE in an appropriately Flying Dutchman existence, and their operators keep getting fired for unionizing (or checking their phones).
Streetcar Death Watch is a recurring feature on the District’s most marked-for-death transit project.
Smart Growth Snobs
There are a lot of reasons to open the streetcar—growth on H Street and Benning Road NE, the fact that the District has already sunk $190 million into it already, etc. But have you considered what shuttering the line would mean for the city’s reputation at urban planning conferences?
In a feature on the streetcar’s woes, Government Executive quotes an anonymous “municipal official on the West Coast” talking trash about the District. Cancelling the streetcar, this official claims, would turn the District government into a “laughingstock.”
Vince Gray Weighs In
In other news about people who have no control over the streetcar’s fate, ex-mayor Vince Gray talked up the languishing streetcar line yesterday in an appearance on NewsChannel 8. With the potential streetcar shutdown floated by Dormsjo, Gray said “many people have looked forward” to the opening of the line.
“I’m concerned about this not going forward,” Gray said.
Muriel Bowser, on the other hand, sounds a little more optimistic about the line’s future in a Washington Post Magazine interview, claiming that she thinks people will ride the streetcar. Someday.
Good news, streetcar. You live to ride with no passengers for another day.
Graphic by Lauren Heneghan