Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Clang, clang, clang went the trolley . . " with passengers! At last, Washington, D.C.launches its new streetcar system

Saturday, February 27, 2016
This morning at 10:30 EST, the first streetcar carrying passengers--not another empty test run--including such VIPs as Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and DDOT chief Leif Dormsjo, the man largely credited with cleaning up the delayed streetcar project and readying it for launch, closed its doors and began rolling westward. The trip wasn't far--only to the top of the "Hopscotch" bridge behind Union Station, but it marked a long-awaited, long-delayed beginning. Your scribe and his bride, Sheila Wexler, attended the historic occasion along with hundreds of excited citizens.

Happily, Washington's highly-variable winter weather provided a break: full sun, no wind, and a temperature in the low 40s.

Fares have been waived for six months, so come visit the H Street streetcar and enjoy a free ride.

This initial line segment is 2.4 miles long, running east-west from behind Washington Union Station (roughly 3rd and H Street NE) to Oklahoma Street and Benning Road NE. The system is expected to expand. The original plan, with north-south lines and branches, described a system totaling over 100 miles.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday-Thursday: 6:00 a.m. – midnight
  • Friday: 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
  • Saturday: 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
  • Sunday: Closed. (Sunday service may be phased in at a later date.)
  • Holidays: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
More information at .


John Fuller


 The launch ceremony took place (background) at H and 13th Streets NE.

 "D.C. Streetcar" souvenir goodies were liberally distributed to guests.

 The Eastern High School Band provided exciting music to whip up streetcar enthusiasm ;-)

 Every photographer knows how "the best laid positioning of mice, men, and guys with cameras oft goes astray." And so it was this morning when, after snagging a good view (for a non-VIP), up steps the sign-language lady between the speaker and the photographer. Seen here (barely) is DDOT head, Leif Dormsjo.

 D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, DDOT head Leif Dormsjo, and U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

 A speaker applauds a happy Mayor Bowser for bringing the streetcar into safe operation.

 Bowser, concluding her remarks: "So, everybody, let's ride!" And with that, the VIPs headed for the first streetcar ride since January 28, 1962, when the previous system was shut down . . .

Local TV crews were present in abundance.

 The ceremony concluded, VIPs queue up for the first passenger ride on a streetcar.

 And away she goes!

 DDOT chief Leif Dormsjo, brought in by Mayor Bowser to clean up the streetcar's remaining problems and ready it for a safe launch.

 It's time for non-VIPs to ride and Sheila's gasket nearly blows trying to persuade her cameraman to board ;-) 

 A calmer Sheila, her cameraman next to her, chills out and enjoys the ride.

 We've arrived at the line's eastern terminus (Benning Rd and Oklahoma St NE). The camera looks back west.

 Walking farther east and shooting back west, the new car barn and training center (under construction) is visible on the right.

 After disembarking, our streetcar continued east to a crossover where it see-sawed to the other track and returned westward. (See photos below.)

 A better view of the car barn and training center.

 Store fronts as seen through the streetcar window. H Street is nothing if not colorful . . .

We've reached the top of the Hopscotch Bridge, as Sheila poses next to our streetcar. Union Station's yard runs beneath the bridge. This spot is the current western end-of-track for the streetcar line. Eventually it may be built to Georgetown.
"Yours truly" posing against the fence marking end-of-track atop the Hopscotch Bridge.

 We're rollling eastward down the Hopscotch Bridge. This view is out the back of the car.

 The stub of track straight ahead is puzzling.

I hope you enjoyed this inaugural visit with D.C.'s new streetcar system!