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Since late summer, the city has been buzzing about streetcar lines coming to Anacostia, H Street NE and possibly numerous other corridors across the city. Some people are thrilled. Others cry waste. But until Saturday, no D.C. streetcars were actually in America—-they were in the Czech Republic, of all places.
Then recently, news broke that the cars were here! Why this was news is kind of peculiar. Do people care when a new, updated version of the METRO car arrives? A press release from the District Department of Transportation noted the length of the streetcars’ journey—4,200 miles. It detailed what kind of measures were taken—-a “wax coating” was applied “over the external surface of the street car”—-to prepare the streetcars for their voyage. It featured an enthusiastic quote from DDOT director Gabe Klein, suggesting that D.C. residents were just dying to see the vehicles up close and personal— as if they were the newest presidential pets.
My question: Will the local press corps get a special photo opp with the streetcars? (See actual Klein quote below.)
And that’s not a knock to DDOT. People are just really going batty over these cars—-which won’t be put to good use until 2012 last I heard (though maybe they’ll be up and running earlier?) I never thought I would be talking about D.C. transportation issues at a house party with a glass of mulled cider in my hand, but it has happened! And I didn’t bring up the subject! My Google Reader updates with Streetcar stories—-from WTOP, NBC, DCist, etc.—-on a regular basis.
What’s with all this? Are we heading for streetcar chatter fatigue?
*“The residents of the District of Columbia own these streetcars, and we want to give them a chance to see them up close for themselves as soon as the vehicles are cleaned up and ready to roll,” said DDOT Director Gabe Klein. “We’re also thrilled to have the streetcars here locally so we can familiarize ourselves with them, test them and prepare for the day when we will put them in service.”