Read this and weep

Here are two articles from the Railway Gazette published on the 25th of August 2015.

The first one deals with the opening of a light rail extension in Sacramento, California:

The second one is regarding the opening of an extension of the Phoenix, Arizona light rail system:

Let's see. Here in the District of Columbia we have been futzing around since 2002 to get a street car system going. By mid 2015, after 13 years (!), this city has managed to built 2.4 miles (3.9 km) on H Street NE. Initially it was planned to start running the line in mid 2013. Now it is August 2015 and there still is no public service, with the DC Department of Transportion even refusing to venture a guess on a possible startup date. All this has cost the taxpayer a staggering $153 million dollars. That is roughly double on what other places spend on building street car lines. 

On top of that, the good citizens of DC are now stuck with street cars which are close to ten years old and never have seen public service. Inekon in the Czech Republic supplied the first units in 2007. Even then, those vehicles were not at the vanguard of street car technology and by now the technology is of course ancient and partially obsolete. 

There are other issues. The design of the system has been a disaster. Somebody forgot to consider putting in switch heaters. Apparently the rail is already deteriorating. There have been three derailments. Worst of all, the rail was laid right next to the parking lane instead of in the center of the road. So anytime somebody does not park exactly in the designated area, it will block the street car. Like demonstrated in this next picture.

Double parked delivery trucks are also a huge problem. In short, it has been a massive boondoggle. It got to be so bad that the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) was asked to take a look at the system and comment on it's viability. The APTA review stated that there are no "fatal" flaws, but did list a few recommendations: 

The APTA may not have uncovered "fatal" flaws, but these 18 points are quite damning. The level of incompetence is staggering. Sadly, the same level of incompetence is also apparent with our subway (underground) rail system run by WMATA.

I am a great fan and believer of street cars and of public transportation in general. But even I am beginning to think that this whole DC street car mess should just be shut down. Cut our losses so to speak. Or like the Germans say: "Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende"!

Here is a blog entry I did some time ago about the Phoenix, Arizona light rail system: Click here.