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When streetcars begin carrying passengers down H Street NE sometime in the next few months, they’ll usher in not just the revival of a transportation technology that’s been extinct in the District since 1962, but also the first step in D.C.’s “Integrated Premium Transit system.”

Today, the District Department of Transportation issued a solicitation for firms interested in designing, building, operating, and maintaining the IPT, as it’s referred to in the solicitation. Despite the fancy name, the IPT isn’t really anything more than the planned streetcar network and the existing bus network within the District—-but brought together under a single operator.

The biggest task of the selected firm will be to expand and run the streetcar network, consisting of a 22-mile priority network—-the H Street line, dubbed the “One City Line,” which will extend to Georgetown and across the Anacostia River, as well as future lines connecting Anacostia to the Southwest Waterfront and Buzzard Point to Takoma—-and a possible 15-mile addition. The company will need to lay new tracks, provide streetcars (the city anticipates needing 62 vehicles for the priority network), and create maintenance facilities.

The streetcar is expected to run during the following hours, with 10-minute headways between trains:

  • Monday through Thursday, 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. (midnight);
  • Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.;
  • Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
  • Sundays and holidays, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Additionally, the firm will take control of two bus components: the Circulator and the “non-regional” D.C. Metrobus routes. The latter consists of 20 routes that are contained entirely within the District and not subsidized by other jurisdictions.

The city is hoping that a private operator of the integrated network will be able to complete the network more quickly and cheaply than the city would. “DDOT has concluded that accessing private-sector innovation…is a way to ensure cost-effective and expedited delivery of the IPT in the best interest of the District,” the solicitation states.

Companies interested in taking control of the IPT are required to respond by March. The city will then short-list selected firms by May.

Map from the DDOT solicitation