News & Politics

DC’s First Streetcar in 50 Years Is Finally on the Tracks (Video)

Passenger service is expected to begin after several months of testing, but at least it’s here.

Only a few more months of testing until you can ride it. Photograph by Flickr user DearEdward.

Fifty years after the last trolley was pulled off the roads, streetcars are back in DC. Last Friday night, after years of delays, false starts, and missed schedules, the District Department of Transportation finally laid the first of three new streetcars on the rails embedded in H St., Northeast.

The 66-foot, Czech-made car was laid down about 9:45 PM following an all-day trip on a massive flatbed from a commissioning site in Southeast DC. There are still several months of field tests and safety inspections ahead before anyone can actually board the new light-rail line, but the trial runs started almost immediately after the car arrived. The streetcar, painted in a red-and-gray livery similar to DC’s Circulator express buses, made its way from the corner of H and Fifth streets to the top of the Hopscotch Bridge behind Union Station.

The H St. line, which runs about 2.4 miles between Union Station and the Anacostia River, is the first stretch of a planned 22-mile system. DDOT recently began studying the feasibility of building a north-south line running between Navy Yard and Silver Spring. The District has already spent $161 million on the H St. line, and plans to spend at least another $400 million to eventually connect it to Georgetown.

Watch video of the streetcar rolling off its transport and onto the tracks from YouTube user Kurt Raschke:

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.