Washington, DC, recently launched a new streetcar. In the first months after rebirth, ridership soared above expected ridership. An intense subliminal nostalgia captures me every time I think of streetcars, thanks to the now vintage commercials implanted in my mind (see below).
In 1962, young and imaginative, I watched a sophisticated woman sticking her modeled leg down off the streetcar, as she smiled and waved to the streetcar driver, and he waved back. The commercial made life riding the tram appear as an exclusively desired choice.
It still is, as the new DC streetcar line exceeded expectations since restarting well over 100 years after the streetcar first came to DC.
WAMU.org news reports that ridership rapidly grew once the line opened. “The 2.2-mile line in Northeast Washington is surpassing the low expectations that resulted from years of ad hoc planning, project delays, cost overruns, and a degree of public apathy.”
Leif Dormsjo, the director of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), added: “So far we’ve been doing quite well. The running times have improved. I think our customers are pleased with the service. The vehicles are being maintained properly. And we haven’t had any safety incidents.”
Almost 70,000 passengers rode DC’s five streetcars in June, according to DDOT figures. “The weekday average was 2,773, and close to 3,000 passengers boarded streetcars on Saturdays that month. The average headway — the interval between streetcars — was 14 minutes, one minute better than the scheduled headway.”
DDOT focuses on Kansas City as an example it is trying to follow. Open daily and free to ride, “After only around 3 months of service, Kansas City’s new downtown streetcar has achieved more than 550,000 passenger rides, far more than had been projected.”
WAMU adds: “At the end of the month, DDOT is expected to make two decisions that could improve streetcar service: whether 1) to run streetcars more frequently and 2) to operate seven days per week. Sundays are currently set aside for maintenance.”
Real-time DC streetcar tracking is available via the DC Streetcar website and smartphone apps.
Check out the videos from the DC website below.
How to find DC Streetcar at Union Station:
How to Ride the DC Streetcar:
And if you are interested in the vintage 1962 commercial highlighting San Francisco streetcars that I remember from early childhood, here it is:
Check out more regarding DC Streetcars.
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