Independent report identifies more problems with the D.C. Streetcar line

WASHINGTON — Broken streetcar rails, inadequate training for workers and a lack of staff with technical expertise of running a streetcar line are among the problems that should be corrected before the D.C. Streetcar could begin serving the public, a report released Thursday says.

Commissioned by the District Department of Transportation, the report by the American Public Transportation Association details 18 recommendations for the $200 million H Street line.

The report finds contractor support is “uneven” and recommends replacing rearview mirrors on the streetcars with cameras.

Among other findings identified in the report, station platforms lack lighting, streetcar operators can’t tell where they are supposed to stop at stations and there is not enough room between the platform edge and the streetcar doors so that the doors scrap along the concrete damaging both the door and the platform.

The report also says that three rail breaks had not been repaired after several months due in part to delays in ordering replacement parts. DDOT also purchased streetcars from two different vendors, which require different parts and separate training for staff. And three weeks after a fire damaged streetcar parts in February, the parts had not been replaced.

The report writers recommend that DDOT identify a single individual to serve as the project manager and to also hire someone with the technical knowledge and light rail experience necessary to run the line.

“Without direct operational experience, it is difficult for DDOT staff to effectively analyze recommendations from contractors. This results in blurred lines of command and delays in decision making,” according to the report.

DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo says the disorganization is being fixed and the project is back on track. The streetcar line could be ready for passengers in a few months.

Initial plans called for the streetcar line to begin operating during Mayor Vincent Gray’s term. But construction delays and problems that arose during the testing phase have delayed the project indefinitely.

WTOP’s Mitchell Miller, Ari Ashe and Amanda Iacone contributed to this report. 

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