Would you like Freedom Fries with that?

The first line of a two-route tram network opened in Dijon, France on September 1 with a weekend of celebrations and inaugural rides, before full commercial services started on September 3.

The 5 and 1/2 mile starter line runs on an east-west alignment from the city’s central railroad station to the eastern suburb of Quetigny, serving 17 stops. The route passes through the center of the city, and other stops are located close to the University of Dijon, the main hospital campus and the soccer stadium. The first line has opened within budget and six months earlier than scheduled. A second line covering 8 miles from Valmy to Chenôve is due to open on December 8. A fleet of 33 Alstom trams have been delivered to Dijon as part of a joint procurement with the city of Brest totalling 55 cars. Brest opened its starter line in June. The vehicles are part of the Alstom "Citadis" family of trams, all low floor and highly customable. The Dijon municipality claims the joint procurement has delivered economies of scale of 25%.

Dijon’s tramway is operated by Keolis, which already runs local bus services under the Divia brand. The company says that 100 000 people have signed up to a contactless smart card ticketing system which is being rolled out across the Divia network.

Dijon Tram Unit (Photo by Alstom)

Now let's see: "under budget and six months early". Using nice, modern 5 section vehicles. Why can the City of Dijon do this in barely four years time while here in Washington, DC we can not even put one mile of track into the ground outside of five years! Why does the DC Department of Transportation insist on buying and using outmoded and already obsolete light rail vehicles? 

Washington, DC Tram Unit (Photo by DC DOT)

Looking at our Metro (subway/underground) system and bus network here in DC I have very little confidence that a future light rail (tram) network will be operational any time soon. Much more worrying is the prospect of that system eventually being run as ineptly and incompetently as our current bus and subway network. I shudder to think how WMATA (Metro) will handle the soon to be opened heavy rail Silver Line which will reach Dulles International Airport eventually. Right now they can not even handle the core system competently. And DC wants them to run a tram system on top of all that? I don't think so.