D.C. streetcar approaches final stages

WASHINGTON— The D.C. streetcar line is nearly two years late and cost tax payers $200 million, but the work could be wrapping up soon and passenger service might be nearing.

The H Street-Benning Road streetcar line will run 2.2 miles from Union Station to the old Spingarn High School near the Anacostia River.

In March, a report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) offered 18 recommendations to the D.C. Department of Transportation to fix the problems inherited from the previous administration.

“We are kind of in the homestretch here. I hope to make some news soon, but I certainly don’t want to get out ahead of the Mayor and ahead of her expectations on what we need to do here,” says DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo.

“There are still a handful of APTA recommendations that will effectively be closed out when we achieve the pre-revenue operations phase of the project, which is right in front of us now,” he adds.
Pre-revenue operations would include dry-runs and other tests under actual conditions that would simulate service, but without the passengers.

Dormsjo says the infrastructure improvements in the APTA recommendations are pretty much completed. In addition to the pre-revenue operation tests, paperwork must be submitted to the State Safety Oversight Office to demonstrate that the streetcars are safe to take passengers.

If the tests are successful and the paperwork is in order, then the Safety Oversight Office and the Federal Transit Administration would then give certification and approval to begin passenger service.

Passengers would be charged $1 to ride on the streetcar when it opens. Those older than 65 would be charged 50 cents. Children younger than 5 with a parent would ride free, as will people with a valid MetroAccess card, according a request for proposals  issued this summer for a mobile ticketing app.

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