News & Politics

DC Streetcar Will Start Passenger Service on February 27

Photograph by Flickr user mariodo59.

The DC Streetcar line along H St. and Benning Rd., Northeast, will start taking passengers on Saturday, February 27, Mayor Muriel Bowser‘s office says. The 2.2-mile trolley line, which has cost the city about $200 million since it was first conceived more than ten years and three mayors ago, will be free to ride for an “introductory period” following the long-awaited launch.

Bowser’s predecessor, Vince Gray, left office telling DC residents it would start running right after he left office in January 2015. That plan was promptly kiboshed when Bowser took over. Instead, the District Department of Transportation spent another full year going through a litany of lingering problems with the streetcar, including some very bad record-keeping.

“Some of the planning around streetcar got a little ahead of itself,” DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo, who inherited the project when he took over the city’s transportation management last year, told Washingtonian in a recent interview.

The streetcar’s official inauguration comes after the completion of a “pre-revenue operation” cycle that started in late December and wrapped up last week, clearing the way for the Federal Transit Administration to give its final approval. Dormsjo, Bowser, and other DC officials will hold an opening ceremony on February 27 near the streetcar’s stop at 13th and H streets, which will presumably be followed by hordes of residents scrambling to board in excitement.

Or not. The streetcar has been in development for so long, it’s easy to take any promise of when it will open with a dash of disbelief. But if it’s really happening this time, it will run every 15 minutes according to this schedule:

  • Monday through Thursday: 6 AM to midnight
  • Friday: 6 AM to 2 AM
  • Saturday: 8 AM to 2 AM
  • Holidays: 8 AM to 10 PM (except Christmas, when it will not run)

There will be no Sunday service. And if you can’t wait another week and change, DDOT last week made this goofball video on “How to Ride” the streetcar that mashes up a bad parody of 1980s-style training montages with, um, urban light rail.

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.