DC Streetcar Set to Debut Before Year’s End, Introduced to General Public

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D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds sits in the driver's seat of a street car at an open house on Aug. 10, 2013. (Credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds sits in the driver’s seat of a street car at an open house on Aug. 10, 2013. (Credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - DC Streetcar, scheduled to open along the H Street Corridor before the end of 2013, held an open house to allow the general public its first glimpse at the city’s newest form of transportation.

Some local politicians got a private viewing prior to the public open house, held at the testing site on South Capitol Street just across the Anacostia from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday.

Inquiring minds had the opportunity to take a seat behind the wheel, so to speak, of a non-moving streetcar set to a fixed track.

“It looks easy enough because there are a bunch of buttons that you push, but I’m sure it’s more difficult,” said Councilmember Anita Bonds, as she gave the horn a good honk.

Street cars were a very popular method of mass transit in the District more than fifty years ago, and the District Department of Transportation is set to reintroduce them to the city streets, starting in just a matter of months between Union Station and Benning Road.

Each car has the capacity to carry up to 150 people, and will travel at a mere 8 miles per hour to facilitate frequent stops, as they’ll share the right-of-way with surrounding traffic.

“If there’s an obstacle in our way, we have to wait for that obstacle to move,” said Eric Anderson, a street car rail operator who previously drove a motor coach for thirty years.

And a spokesperson for DC Streetcar is hoping to alleviate misguided health concerns about the transit system.

“They don’t emit radiation, they’re not going to make you sick,” Dara Ward told WNEW.

Visit the DC Streetcar website for more information.

Follow George Mesthos and WNEW on Twitter.

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