D.C.’s new streetcar line could be running along H Street Northeast and Benning Road Northeast by Thanksgiving, and one of the most important steps along the way will be getting operators trained to keep them going.
As of Monday, operators will begin working with their supervisors to learn how the streetcars work. In all, 28 operators will be part of the training sessions. They’ll be part of a full operations team consisting of 37 employees overseen by RATP Dev McDonald Transit.
Both the District Department of Transportation and State Safety Oversight Agency will have to sign off on the streetcar system before it can open. In the meantime, drivers and pedestrians along the route can expect to see the bright red machines rolling along on their tracks with D.C. traffic.
Traffic, by the way, should be exceptionally interesting in coming days, since the Africa Leaders Summit is in town and numerous roads roads will be closed. Those changes will be temporary, but the the streetcars will be here to stay. And more could be on the way, though D.C.’s new budget may have delayed their rollout significantly.
Streetcars, along with the proposed new D.C. United stadium at Buzzard Point, have been a pet project for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The D.C. Council, meanwhile, has been lukewarm at best in supporting both of those endeavors in 2014. He should at the very least be able to walk away from the mayor’s office with the H Street/Benning line up and operating, though, assuming all goes well with the safety inspections.