After years of delay and $200 million, Washington D.C.’s 2.2-mile-long streetcar route opened to the public this weekend

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The D.C. Streetcar along H Street NE on opening day. (Bossi / Flickr)

The D.C. Streetcar along H Street NE on opening day. (Bossi / Flickr)

After years of delay, Washington, D.C.‘s $200 million dollar streetcar opened to the public this Saturday.

On opening day, a technician repairs a panel that clipped the tracks and stalled the train. (Bossi / Flickr)

On opening day, a technician repairs a panel that clipped the tracks and stalled the train. (Bossi / Flickr)

Initially, the D.C. Streetcar was intended to be a modern-day streetcar network that would make other cities’ streetcars bow down. The first segment was supposed to open ten years ago, and the planned route was to run 20 to 40 miles. Today, though, the streetcar scales a modest 2.2 miles, with a route that begins from behind Union Station and runs along H and Benning streets to end at the RFK Stadium parking lot.

As expected by the public and feared by public officials, opening day was full of excitements and fraught with delays. Some riders were incredulous:

Others, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, right, selfied on a packed ride…

…while The Washingtonian captured a video that reminds viewers that this streetcar has average speeds of 12 to 15 miles per hour.

Despite a fare of $0 for the first six months, the streetcar has limitations. Trains run every quarter hour, only run until 2 a.m., and not at all on Sundays due to limited capacity. (DDOT officials, The Washington Post reports, left three cars outside, unprotected from the weather, for a few years, damaging one so badly that it was not put into service.)

For those with more burning questions about the streetcar, the paper produced a handy streetcar FAQ for the grand opening.

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