Washington, D.C.’s grossly expensive streetcar service finally went operational Saturday after a 54-year hiatus and a decade worth of bureaucratic delays, but old fashioned, inconvenient walking may still be a faster way to move around the city.
The streetcar will ferry passengers on a strip between Union Station and Benning Road, east of Oklahoma Avenue NE and includes eight stops. The streetcar faces obstacles like cars, bikes and pedestrians as it lumbers between destinations, which may slow its progress, reports NBC Washington.
The plagued streetcar system, which costed over $200 million to complete over 10 years, takes roughly 26 minutes to make it between its two destinations. Obstacles may add to that time, including street parking. It reportedly took 19 minutes on a bus, 10 minutes on a bike and seven minutes in an Uber to cover the same distance. A pedestrian walking the same path can complete the trip in just 27 minutes, according to The Washington Post.
“I can walk faster than this,” Ternechue Butler, former outreach specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told The Washington Post. “I don’t think it can go any faster because of the parking.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is a big proponent of the streetcar system and pushed hard for its continued development and opening. She attended the grand opening of the streetcar Saturday.
“We are excited to get DC Streetcar up and running,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser in a press release. “Streetcar expands public transportation options for residents and visitors, and connects neighborhoods. We thank the businesses and residents along the H Street / Benning corridor for their patience and support leading up this historic day.”
District residents remain divided on the new transportation system, questioning its efficacy and general purpose. Citizens are also upset about the $200 million price tag, arguing that money could have been allocated to something of higher priority.
“The bus is faster – of course,” Roslyn Holmes, a 57-year-old D.C. resident, told The Washington Post. “It’s very short. They could have used the money elsewhere, like developing more homes for the seniors and the homeless, and mental health for the youth, because they’re going crazy.”
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