Streetcars return to DC

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- It's hard to imagine a time when D.C. didn't have some of the worst traffic in the nation.

Instead it was a city filled with the hum of a few classic automobiles, and the streetcar ruled the road until 1962.

Fifty years later, D.C.'s streetcars are coming back to town.

Those were the days, when 'taking a joy ride' in the classic cars of the 1950s meant a whole different thing in Washington. It was D.C.'s streetcars which transported residents across the city for nearly a century.

Joe Koontz worked as a streetcar checker in 1941 earning $90 a month.

"They had supervisors who would come by where you were working on that particular day and give you your assignment for the next day, so I didn't actually go to an office. I was out on the street," Koontz said.

Back then, Streetcars originated from Car Barns, like the one located at 15th and East Capitol St. where D.C. Native Andy Ockershausen grew up riding with his grandfather, a career conductor.

"My grandfather had been a retired conductor. He would take me and we'd spend all day at Glen Echo, and we'd have free tickets, they'd give you a big block of tickets, it was a wonderful experience, great summers,"Ockershausen said.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says the good 'ole days are coming back to D.C. this winter.

"This is a very exciting time for our city, I think the streetcars will complement the growth and development that we're seeing in the city. I think also it will continue to make us a unique presence," Mayor Gray said.

This first phase of the train will go up to the top of Hopscotch Bridge at Union Station and extend to Benning Rd. along H Street. The cars will carry between 120 to 140 passengers, with eight stops along the first route.

The goal is to return to a time of community, with streetcars being a common thread tying D.C. residents and businesses together.

The first Streetcar will be ceremoniously placed on the Hopscotch Bridge behind Union Station on H Street Friday night. But beware, ticketing and parking enforcement has now begun along the route. If you park beyond the new white lines, you will be fined.


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