Tuesday, October 09, 2012

D.C. ponders PCC streetcar option

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The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is considering the purchase of vintage President's Conference Committee streetcars (PCCs) as part of its efforts to restore streetcar service to the nation's capital.

DDOT advanced the proposal in September in a document outlining the ways the city plans to mitigate the effect of the streetcar line on historic properties. Preservationists have been among the more vocal opponents of streetcars within the district, primarily due to concerns voiced over the impact of overhead wires on "view corridors" in the city, particularly involving iconic buildings such as the U.S. Capitol Building.

"It's a clever option as well as a peace offering of sorts," one Washington, D.C. rail advocate told Railway Age. "It may be much harder to object openly to a streetcar design on historic grounds when it actually used to be part of the district's history."

DDOT plans to evalute the potential to acquire and restore PCCs. At present one of the larger caches of out-of-service PCCs is in Jersey City, N.J., with several PCCs owned by New Jersey Transit, once used for the Newark City Subway (now named Newark Light Rail), literally under wraps.

DDOT has reiterated its interest in powering streetcars without overhead wires where possible, likely through the use of dual-power streetcars, such as the ameriTRAM prototype being marketed by KinkiSharyo.