Tags: Global Warming | Money | D.C. | Car | Rail | Road | Street

D.C. Streetcar Fiasco Wouldn't Last in Private Sector

By Friday, 04 March 2016 02:56 PM Current | Bio | Archive

There’s good news for Washington, D.C. area parents with small children.

No longer will you have to travel hundreds of miles to Disneyland to let the little ones enjoy a thrilling ride on a toy train. Instead you can pack the wee folk off to D.C. and let them ride a streetcar line that’s as short as their attention span.

I know you’re thinking, “Ha, ha he’s talking about that little train that runs beneath Capitol Hill between House and Senate offices! But you can’t ride that unless you’re toting a Member of Congress’ sedan chair.”

Actually, that’s no problemo if you’re a campaign contributor.

A large enough check and you’ll be like Trump — when he rides Donald gets to wear the engineer’s hat and blow the horn. But I’m talking about the new D.C. mini–mass transit system that connects a riverbank with Amtrak.

Don’t worry about the ride frightening little Brunswick, the D.C. streetcar travels at a stately 4.6 miles per hour, almost exactly the speed of the Disneyland railroad.

You’ll have no problem discussing the horrors of a Trump administration with passing pedestrians as they amble along beside the streetcar.

Even better, for the next six months or so the D.C. ride is free; if you overlook the $200 million it took to build the pocket rail.

A realist might see that number and think it’s a lot of money for a two–mile, glorified Tonka Train. Particularly when the tax dollars could have resurfaced almost 200 miles of D.C.’s washboard streets.

City functionaries believe that’s constipated thinking.

One must evaluate the streetcar based on what was intended rather than the result.

Something like the benchmark used to measure Obamacare.

The Washington Post reports, this streetcar became desire when former D.C. bureaucrat Dan Tangherlini saw the Portland model and fell in love.

Washington, D.C. taxpayers should count themselves fortunate, Tangherlini’s trip didn’t include a ride on a steamboat. Otherwise he might have wanted to reopen the W & O Canal.

The streetcar was originally intended to be a $1.3 billion, 22–mile system the construction of which would have brought gridlock out of Congress and into D.C. streets for decades, killing off more businesses than a riot.

Now for 15 percent of the cost taxpayers have 7 percent of the system, which is about the usual D.C. incompetence surcharge.

NASA put a man on the moon in only 7 years, inventing the technology as the project went along. It took D.C. 15 years, using 20th Century technology, to get a passenger on a streetcar.

In the private sector incompetence on this scale would have meant job losses, bankruptcy and pleas for a government bailout.

Since this is the government it meant non-stop paychecks and promotions.

Tangherlini, for example, failed upward and became Obama’s head of the General Services Administration where he would waste billions.

The city ordered three streetcars years before tracks were laid or storage built. An administrative elite so obsessed with the imaginary threat of “global warming,” has a strange inability to grasp the reality of precipitation.

After years of sitting in the weather one of the three cars is only good for slightly soggy parts.

The other two will be stored in a car barn costing almost five times what Seattle paid for its garage, but Seattle can’t boast of a “cistern for washing [streetcars] with rainwater” or uniforms cleaned by beating them on rocks.

The original plan was to lay track in Anacostia where it was supposed to jump start “development.” Unfortunately none of the planners bothered to check with the corpse to see if it wished to be revived.

Washington, D.C. was forced to abandon $20 million and eight–tenths of a mile of track like a ruler dropped in a junkyard.

Once the second set of tracks was built and testing began the city discovered using Portland’s streetcar plans worked best with Portland streets.

Washington, D.C.'s lines were laid too close to cars that were allowed to park parallel to the tracks. Testing lasted for years; evidently hoping motorists might give up and leave. I witnessed an ‘H’ street test. The streetcar looked like "The Flying Dutchman."

Entirely empty, brightly–lit, rumbling down the road its passage marked by the occasional screech of torn metal and shouted oaths as a car door was sheared off by the passing streetcar.

The streetcar paved with gold is open now and that’s what counts if you’re a politician.

The ride is free because there’s no room for fare gates on the postage–stamp sized stops.

If spoilsports demand a revenue stream in the future, passing the hat remains a possibility.

Disneyland’s railroad and the D.C. streetcar are both transportation systems that rely for success on fantasy.

The difference is Walt used his own money, while D.C. used yours.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.


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The D.C. streetcar travels at a stately 4.6 miles per hour, almost exactly the speed of the Disneyland railroad. Disneyland’s railroad and the D.C. streetcar are both transportation systems that rely for success on fantasy. The difference is Walt used his own money, while D.C. used yours.
D.C., Car, Rail, Road, Street, Washington
Friday, 04 March 2016 02:56 PM
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