Committee of 100 Opposes 8th Street Streetcar Route

Committee of 100 Opposes 8th Street Streetcar Route

by Larry Janezich

The District’s chief historic preservation group – The Committee of 100 – has recommended against a streetcar line along the 8th Street corridor connecting M Street, SE, and H Street, NE.  “This area is already commercially successful, has an established residential character and is served amply by N/S buses,” a report issued by the group this morning noted.  “We urge the city to explore another N/S connection…perhaps connecting Reservation 13 with Benning Road.”  The Committee urges giving priority to routes in areas underserved by mass transit and where large scale development has been approved.

This recommendation was only one part of a long-awaited 91 page report.  The Committee will present hard copies to DC Councilmembers and ANCs this week.

In the report, the Committee expresses general support of the streetcar plan, but notes that it is being implemented without a financing and maintenance plan.  The group also urges that the city do no rezoning to increase density; it opposes trading zoning incentives for private investment in the system, opposes overturning a federal law that bans overhead streetcar wires (with only a temporary exemption for H Street), and opposes purchase of any more streetcars that can’t be adapted to run on a wireless system.

The complete report can be viewed here:


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13 responses to “Committee of 100 Opposes 8th Street Streetcar Route

  1. Thanks, Larry, for reporting this. I was a big streetcar supporter, but the 90, 92, etc. buses are terrific buses that move enormous numbers of riders from NW to SE very quickly. These buses are extremely popular and often have standing room only. When I’m up in Adams Morgan late at night, these buses are a great way to get home, a straight shot to my house. Lots of people on the bus are coming from work at the hospitals up on North Capitol and making their way to Ward 7 and 8. More buses are definitely needed along this route. It seems like a street car would just get in the way. The buses are great!

  2. rg

    Streetcars have higher capacity and lower operating costs than buses. If you want a less crowded ride, you should advocate for streetcars. Plus, streetcars offer a much smoother ride than buses and the electric motor of a streetcar is MUCH quieter and exponentially less smelly than the internal combustion engine of a bus. Note that the 90/92 was a streetcar until 1961.

  3. ErikD

    If the buses are standing room only, the reason for going to a streetcar might be to increase capacity for the future. Streetcars hold a greater number of people and should move them faster (if there are timed lights and priority to the streetcars)

  4. Johanna

    Thanks for helping to think further about this. I am just a big public transit fan. I need to research this further, but these street cars wouldn’t replace the entire 90/92 route, which would mean that the street cars would be added to the bus lines?

  5. Thom

    I don’t think the streetcar has to replicate either the Blue-Orange line to Res 13 nor the 90-92 up 8th St to H Street.

    I do think it would be a shame, however, if the streetcare connector between the H St NE line and the Anacostia line failed to connect to all three/four subway lines that traverse the Hill, meeting the Green Line at Anacostia, the Blue/Orange at Potomac, then allowing riders to get off at the starburst intersection and switch to the H St NE line toward Union Station and the Red Line. Moving the connector line’s intersection with H St. NE to the east would also have the advantage of putting that stop where more of the action is on H St NE right now, up near 12th and 13th.

    How about leaving the 90-92 buses running as is, and having this connector streetcar line come over the 11 Street bridge from Anacostia, turn right-ish (northeast) on Potomac Ave, follow Potomac Ave past the Potomac Ave Metro and then go up 15th Street from there to H Street/the starburst intersection?

  6. Thom

    It doesn’t change my mind about using the Potomac Ave-15th St route from the 11th Street bridge crossing to H St NE, however…

    I looked at the map, and weirdly enough, the distance from 12th to 15th on H St NE is almost double the distance from 8th to 12th, because the blocks are so much longer to the east.

  7. Max

    Rerouting the streetcar line doesn’t make any sense. It would greatly increase the time to travel from U St. to Eastern Mkt, defeating one of the main points of the street car – to connect neighborhoods within the city. It would also duplicate an orange/blue line metro stop b/w EMkt and Potomac ave. The point Thom makes that the action at H St. is closer to starburst will also not be true by the time this line goes in. The development of the H St. Connection b/w 8th and 10th will make the intersection 8th and of H a major hub.

  8. Thom

    Thom’s 15th Street Streetcar would never go to EM. It would come across the 11th Street Bridge and immediately turn right toward Potomac Ave Metro along Potomac Avenue, then shoot up 15th Street from there, near Safeway, past Payne and the Center City Charter School at E. Capitol. Partiers seeking a route from U Street NW to EM would get there as they do now, by Metro or bus.

    Couldn’t 15th St from Potomac Ave Metro to 15th & H Street turn into a minor commercial district along that route?

    Mostly, I’m just putting my $0.02 in, against the possibility that the whole streetcar connector between the Anacostia streetcar and H St. NE streetcar might otherwise be abandoned because 8th Street residents shout it down.

  9. Just so everyone knows, we have a strong comment policy on this website. Any remarks that demean or question the motives of others will be “trashed.” There are plenty of other places for for these postings. I want invite the person whose comments were eliminated to re-post his (her?) valuable remarks without the last couple of sentences.
    Larry Janezich

  10. Lee

    Um, didn’t the 90/92 replace a streetcar in the first place? Wasn’t the whole area built around that streetcar alignment? If the buses are standing-room only, you obviously need to increase capacity. Streetcars have much greater capacity. Also they have a smoother ride, quieter and less pollution. Going back to a modern streetcar seems like a pretty obvious solution. The high demand for buses on the 90/92 route says to me that you need the higher-capacity solution on that route which streetcars provide, which is what the original streetcars were doing in the first place when the neighborhoods formed around them.

    Also I don’t get opposing increased density. That is the opposite of making any sense. Density and transit go hand in hand. Each makes the other more useful. Especially with rail transit due to the greater capacity.

    Rerouting the streetcar also doesn’t make any sense. It would take way longer to get from U street to eastern market. If you aren’t connecting neighborhoods efficiently, then doesn’t that defeat the whole point of the alignment?

    Sorry but I can’t make heads or tails of these recommendations.

  11. Thomas Riehle

    You are right. The current 90/92 bus used to be a streetcar line that went up 8th St. SE/NE to Florida and across to U Street. See this very cool map of the whole DC streetcar system, courtesy of Tim Krepp:

    If it is politically impossible in the mid-2010s to get agreement to run that route up 8th Street, however, there are other alternatives–up 15th from the Potomac Avenue Metro, or up past Res 13 and north from there.

  12. Liz

    FWIW, I think Thom’s proposal of ‘meeting the Green Line at Anacostia, the Blue/Orange at Potomac, then allowing riders to get off at the starburst intersection and switch to the H St NE line toward Union Station and the Red Line’ seems to me to be a great idea. Not only would it be a great Easterly connection between many areas + transit options, but might also encourage further development of some ‘half-way’ areas, such as the area around the Potomac Ave metro. As a novice to the process, how are these things proposed/decided? Is this suggestion possible?

  13. Whoa_now

    I think the 15th st line is a great idea….but I think it should be in addition to the 8th street line. If there can be only one, let it be the 8th street. I’m not sure why it would be any other place. Look at a map-logically this is where you should put it. It is the natural bisect of the Hill. I live on 8th and I support this line.