The Biggest Loser of 2014: The Streetcar

by Lark Turner

The Biggest Loser of 2014: The Streetcar: Figure 1
Not in service.

UrbanTurf usually stays away from publishing rankings or lists…except at the end of the year when we look back at the best that DC’s residential real estate scene had to offer during the previous 12 months. So, this week, we are looking at not only the best, but the most intriguing and peculiar things that came across our radar over the course of the past year.

2014 is coming to a close, and despite repeated promises, the long-awaited streetcar still isn’t carrying passengers up and down H Street.

That, combined with two other setbacks for streetcars in the DC area, have made 2014 a losing year for the transportation method touted as either a smart-growth catalyst for development or a less-mobile, traffic-snarling version of a bus.

DC has big plans for streetcars, which are intended to fill transportation gaps in places not accessible to Metro. The H Street streetcar, which will run just over two miles from Union Station to the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Benning Road, is supposed to become part of a large network spanning about 40 miles around the city. But the DC Council threw a wrench in that plan over the summer, pulling more than half of the funding that the mayor said was necessary to perform feasibility studies and other preliminary work to make the streetcars happen.

That was the backdrop for the recent cancellation — not delay, not suspension, but outright cancellation — of a long-planned streetcar line for Columbia Pike and Crystal City. County officials announced in mid-November that the 7.4-mile streetcar system wasn’t going to happen, partly thanks to citizens’ growing skepticism about the value of the streetcar.

So between the long-delayed H Street streetcar, the District-wide funding cuts and Arlington County’s nixing of streetcars altogether, it wasn’t a great year for this mode of transportation in the region. But we can pretty confidently say that commuters will be riding the H Street streetcar sometime in 2015. Or — you never know — we could be writing this article again next year.

See other articles related to: best of 2014

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_biggest_loser_of_2014_the_streetcar/9332

1 Comment

  1. petersamuel said at 12:58 am on Friday December 19, 2014:
    At last some commonsense in local government. Streetcars are cute toys, but ridiculous as transportation - hardly faster than walking, hugely expensive to build, maintain and operate. Tied totally to those rails and overhead wires. Inflexible. Any value they can provide to riders is trivial compared to their costs so they'll be a perpetual drain on city finances. Financially unsustainable! Everything they can do for commuters, rubber tired vehicles on pavement can do better. It's welcome news that officials are starting to acknowledge this.

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