Sunday, August 17, 2008

Revised Streetcar Map

I have revised the Streetcar Plan's map to make it more readable. In order to do this, I have removed some information. Originally, Metro stops (existing and proposed) were named and included line information. Now, only "M" logos appear to show station locations.

Hopefully this map will be easier to read and understand.

For more details on my streetcar plan, visit:


Anonymous said...

This is a great start, but the lack of any lines east of the river is a major problem.

The Capitol Hill area is a bit awkward. I don't understand the reason to keep the streetcars on Mass in front of Union Station, rather than just cut across on H Street from the get go.

Also, living on the hill, one of the biggest issues is the lack of a rail connection to the Union Station area from the Eastern Market area. Why not have the line that goes up 8th St continue on 8th, then up Mass to Union Station?

Matt' said...

I did have reasons for excluding Anacostia from the streetcar network.

Anacostia has long been the forgotten side of DC, and the residents there are rightfully sensitive about it. I think it's shameful that we can't seem to solve the poverty and urban decay found in the shadow of the Capitol Dome.

Remember, for the purposes of this blog, I assume that all the elements of my transit plan will be constructed. In that case, I have upgraded the District's plan for a short streetcar line in Anacostia to a full-scale light rail line connecting to National Harbor (and the Pink Line) on the South side, and to Columbia, Maryland on the North side. This line runs parallel to the Anacostia River, and serves the denser parts of Southeast.

The rest of Anacostia is not terribly dense. It also lacks good facilities for streetcars. The roads are very much car-oriented and so is a lot of the commercial development.

A few potential corridors do seem to come to mind:
1. East Capitol Street
2. Pennsylvania Avenue
3. Southern Avenue

Can anyone think of other corridors in Southeast?

Matt' said...

Keeping streetcars in front of Union Station has a couple of benefits.

The primary one is to link passengers to Union Station. H Street is not exactly a good place to stop for pedestrians changing to the Red Line or commuter trains. Why would we want to drop someone off 2 blocks from the back door to Union Station? Would we expect tourists to be able to find a stop there?

Streetcars aren't about speed either. You'll note that in my Metro/Light Rail Plan, the Silver Line runs directly under H Street for its entire stint in the L'Enfant City. If you're in a hurry, you'll take the Metro, not the streetcar. Besides, any time savings you would get from routing the streetcar along H would be lost in the walk to Union Station itself.

Union Station is Washington's Foyer. It was designed at the height of the City Beautiful movement as the entry point for visitors to Our Nation's Capital. Just seeing Union Station is something everyone should do. It's just appropriate to put streetcars at the front door. After all, even the Silver Line will go right to Dulles, instead of staying in the median of the Dulles Toll Road.


A streetcar connection between Union Station and Eastern Market is a good idea. Perhaps we could extend the Wisconsin Line from Union Station down toward the Navy Yard.

Other suggestions?

FourthandEye said...

I'm admittedly not very familiar with Anacostia. So I can't really speak to the density, street compatibility and commercial corridors. I just think you have to have a line down there politically and to induce economic development.

DC's Great Streets Initiative does feature several South of the river streets. I would think atleast one of them would have to work - no? Just looking at the map Minnesota Ave seems like a logical choice because it could connect Benning to Poplar Point. But I know residents have pushed back on this before...

Anonymous said...

For stuff east of the river, I think the initial streetcar plan had the right idea: Connecting the Anacostia Metro to the Minnesota Ave Metro, on any number of ROWs, would be a good idea - that helps facilitate a rail transfer from lines without going all the way to L'Enfant.

Service across the Sousa Bridge in along Pennsylvania would be a nice idea, too. East Capitol could be an option, but there's already Metro service there. Penn Ave has nothing. That line could also shift to go down Branch Ave and terminate at the Naylor Road Metro.

A line crossing the river at the 11th St Bridges and going out on Good Hope Road/Naylor Road could also work - terminating at the Naylor Road Metro.

I'm sorry I missed the LRT portion, that certainly helps the coverage in that area.

Still, I think it's important to add this infrastructure as a means to attract investment (especially with proposals like Poplar Point), to say nothing about the political feasibility - attempting to pass this plan without any connections across the river would be suicide. Also, as auto-dependent as the land uses east of the river may be, that's not going to change without a reason.

Regarding Union Station, my idea with using H Street would be that a terminal at the rear of the station would integrate with the Akridge air rights development over the tracks and the new train terminal they're building (as well as a potential new Blue line for Metro under that same ROW).

Rob Pitingolo said...

Sorry if this has already been answered, but what software did you use to create these maps? They look great, by the way.

Matt' said...

The software I use is called "inkscape". It's a freeware program that is similar to Adobe Illustrator.

Thanks for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

Cool map. I think it would be cool to run that Orange line north of Dupont and follow the old 42 streetcar (and current 42 bus) to the Mt. Pleasant loop.

And might I ask, where did you come up with most of the lines? I see that many of them are from the DDOT's corridors of the future, or whatever, but I've never seen Q st. fit into that picture. Also, from those corridors, you left out the Mass Ave. to Ward Circle corridor.

Also, as somebody who rides the Q St. bus daily, I'll point out that there are always way more people getting on at Q and 30th than Q and 28th (there is almost never anybody getting on or off there, for whatever reason). I'd put a stop at 30th and 25th. That's were the majority of people get on, and they're still pretty well spaced out.

And so long as you're dreaming big, might as well throw in the old Cabin John line. We've still got the ROW...

Anonymous said...

The Brown Line should cross Wisconsin and continue to the Georgetown University campus at 37th St, possibly by repairing the old trolley tracks that are still buried in O St. As we all see daily on the Metro, all of DC's universities are major employers, and their students are some of the most avid off-peak riders in the city.

Matt' said...

Q Street,
Thank you for the compliment.

I like the idea of resurrecting the #42. Isn't it awful, bustitution? I might just include that in version 2.0.

As for coming up with the lines, I used historic alignments along with my knowledge of the city (and as a transportation planning student) to find corridors that met the following criteria:
1. Density
2. Commercial corridor
3. Traffic speeds low
4. Street wide enough for streetcars and cars
5. Provide a regional connection.

I have not actually looked very much into DDOT's Plan. The radial lines were easiest. They are very dense and have a history of streetcars.

The Crosstown Line came from the original proposal to serve the Mid-City by Metro. The Red Line would have had a spur running up Columbia to Columbia Heights.

The Boundary Street Line is a good connecting line, and serves many dense neighborhoods.

I didn't (and don't) think that Massachusetts Avenue toward Ward Circle has enough density to support a streetcar initially.

As for stops: These are conceptual locations. They are fairly regulary spaced and are near major street crossings. They are there more to give a sense of locational reference than to be a hard/fast location for a streetcar stop.

And Cabin John: Much of the right-of-way is indeed intact, but almost none of the transit ridership is. Without an amusement park, I doubt many people would ride. This corridor is not very dense and is fairly affluent, which does not bode well for transit investment, in my opinion.

It might be a nice place for a heritage streetcar operation, though. Mabybe the DC Streetcar museum could relocate. The ICC is taking their site, after all.

Thanks for all the comments, everybody. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

I see. That's a good point about the Mass Ave. line. Probably not enough density there to support it.

Obviously I'd love to see a Q St. line. While I agree with Tom that serving the University is important, I believe that sending the Q St. line up through Glover Park would be more worthwhile. The D2 is very highly utilized by Glover Park residents, and I think a streetcar version of the D2 would be very popular.

No luck on the DC Trolley Museum moving. They've already built a new building to accomodate the ICC. I think it basically came down to the fact that a lot of the people who run it live right around there, and don't really want to travel to the District.

Anonymous said...

The Cleveland Park metro is at CT and Ordway, so if you want a direct connection, I would alter that.

The other suggestion, run that line out to Chevy Chase Lake or Kensington. I think we could get a heck of a lot of cars off the road by simply making that a viable option.

Anonymous said...

I hate to nitpick your beautiful map, into which you obviously exerted a lot of effort re: the details. Whining pedants like me are obnoxious and at least some of the time should be slapped.

I am not sure, however, that there is a Metro station adjacent to Kalmia and Georgia. That crossing, hitting very near Eastern Avenue, may be roughly equidistant between Takoma and Silver Spring stations, and about a mile from each.

I love that you picked up on a serious gap in the current Metro: the lack of good service into th State Department/Foggy Bottom East cluster near DAR below the World Bank. Originally, streetcars apparently did serve that cluster.

Many thanks on this beautiful and thoughtful map!!

Matt' said...

Bruce, you are quite correct. There is currently no Metro station there.

However, if you kindly look at my Metro/LRT plan, you will note that a Kalmia Station is located on the Westside Light Rail (sky blue in color) which runs from Fairfax Hills to Silver Spring.

There are other places where I have included "M"s that aren't currently decorated by brown pylons. Most notably, the Oklahoma Avenue stop on the east side of DC, where I terminate three streetcar lines.

For all of these plans, I assume the entire network will be completed. If it isn't, then certain things would change.

For instance, take the 14th Street Line. Historically streetcars turned back at 14th and Colorado. Some Metrobuses on the 50s line still do. Since I included an LRT stop at 16th and Colorado, also on the Westside Light Rail, it makes sense to continue the 14th Street Line across Gallatin Street to make a connection to a regional service. If, in real life, some one starts constructing *my* streetcar plan, but not my Metro/LRT plan, wit would not be necessary to take 14th Street Line trains over to 16th.

And don't apologize for nitpicking. I've already been notified of one error, the Cleveland Park stop should be at Ordway, not Newark. but I wouldn't have realized that error without a commenter noting it.

Anonymous said...

Great Map! What about an east -west connection up north. Maybe Military Road. I think that was on the DC/Wmata? streetcar map as an option. East-West is one of the biggest problems. I know the purple line will help but not for us in upper northwest.

Tom A. said...

Great map! However I think you have a typo on the Benning Road line- you have 21st street then to the east is 15th. I think you may have meant 25th. Also there's no way a trolley would work on E street near Kingman Park- it's way too narrow, has a slight hill, is windy, and very residential. They'd never stand for it! D street makes much more sense. And I agree with the earlier comment about just going straight down H Street, and ignoring Union Station directly. You ucan call the stop at North Capitol Street "Union Station north." :-)

Nice work on the map!

Davemurphy said...

Matt, another fine map you've made. For east of the Anacostia, I might suggest the Alabama Avenue corridor connecting Capitol Heights to Congress Heights. It's a relatively up-and-coming corridor that is often overlooked. Again, beautiful work.

Zac said...

Great map! But I would like to see an expansion of your streetcar idea going deeper into areas such as PG County, Montgomery County, Arlington County, City of Alexandria and even Fairfax County.

And did you know that Greater Greater Washington mentioned this on their site?

Alan Biller said...

These maps are all very fascinating. I spent several hours last night picking through them instead of searching for jobs. It would be a miracle if even a third of this ever got built. With all the controversy and squabbling over the Dulles extension, and people in Silver Spring putting purple "No Train on Wayne" signs in their front yard, everyone in DC is going to be buried in their cars someday. But anyway...

I do have a couple of suggestions. First, I definitely agree with Dave that Alabama Avenue and possibly 25th Street SE and Good Hope could use a streetcar line. This is a major artery east of the river. They've just built Henson Ridge and the new Giant and shopping center, and there's a lot going on around where 25th, Naylor, and Good Hope all come together. Maybe something to connect MLK/Alabama (near Malcolm X on the light rail) to Congress Heights metro to Henson Ridge to Suitland Parkway to the commercial areas around Good Hope/Naylor/25th and maybe all the way up Good Hope to the light rail? There's a ton of subsidized garden-style apartment complexes around Alabama between 10th and 25th, and the only transportation options right now are the Alabama Avenue bus and the Green line at Congress Heights. While it's not exactly the picture of urban density, I believe that cars will not be an option for a lot of these folks in the very near future.

Also, here's something you might consider. At this point you've pretty much assumed DC remaining the center point in a sprawling metropolitan area, which it currently is. A lot of the suburbs have been putting in their own new urbanism-style downtowns and trying to increase density to support them. Examples that come to mind are Silver Spring, Rockville, Reston Town Center, Fairfax Corner to name a few. I imagine we might be seeing transportation efforts from the county and city governments to establish trolleys or light rail to feed these satellite downtown areas. How would this work into your greater plan? Why would DC need to build so much with such a centralized emphasis if the suburbs are beginning to pick up the slack? Instead of building the light rail out to Columbia, might Columbia's light rail come down to College Park?

Just some thoughts on the discussion. Thanks again for these fascinating ideas.

Anonymous said...

I was recently in an ANC meeting where updates on the NoMA bid were presented. The streetcar was mentioned and questions arose about the potential for the route to run down K St to Mt. Vernon Square vs. Mass Ave.

I would like to suggest this as K is such a wide street and is slated for a good amount of future residential, retail and commercial development. With the city's strict requirements for any new development on K to follow the "Linear Park" guidelines (which can be seen on K St. in front of City Vista), this would not only be a beautiful route, but a convenient one that would not interfere with the heavy traffic on Mass from Union Station to Mt. Vernon Square. This would also be a central route to the residential and retail that exists along or 1-2 blocks north/south off K NW between 1st St and Mt. Vernon Square. This includes City Vista (Results, 5th St. Hardware, Safeway, Busboys, etc.) and the approved developments: The Arts at 5th & I and the Douglas project running along K between 6th & 5th (Waffle Shop relocation & House Of Blues-"esque")venues.

If the streetcar line went in (and hopefully would connect H St. NE to Georgetown, servicing the Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood), I think we'd see an amazing renaissance in the Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood and an increase in business to H St. NE (which is really starting to become a hot spot!) There was an article today in Express noting that use of public transportation has gone up 6%-8% - even with the falling gas prices.

I have been all over Europe, and streetcar lines/public transportation is so vital to the vibrant inner city population. I would love to see this successful trend start in DC as it has in other parts of the country. Dedicated street cars are not only greener than busses, they're more reliable & efficient.

I have a number of local business owners that would be happy to jump on board in support of the K St. line. PLEASE keep me posted, I want to do anything I can to help make this a reality, and soon!

John Thompson said...

I've just set up a blogger account so others can contact me!

I (very much) want to be involved in this effort.

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