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Streetcars Expected to Bring Jobs to D.C.

5/22/2013, 11:43 a.m.
Expected to start services in late 2013, the streetcars will run its first route between the H Street and Benning ...
The District of Columbia expects the H Street/Benning Road Streetcars to bring jobs into the city. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

District of Columbia residents will have something to celebrate once the city's new streetcar system becomes operational this fall. Some will have an additional public transportation option, while for others, there'll be more employment choices for those seeking jobs.

"Getting the streetcar vehicles ready for testing is a major step toward implementing a new streetcar system," said Gray, 70, at the launch of the streetcar testing phase on May 1 in Southwest. "D.C. Streetcar is also looking to hire eight operations and maintenance employees – the first new hires in what will be many jobs created, both directly and indirectly, by the revival of streetcars in the District of Columbia for the first time in half a century."

Eight non-union jobs were offered at a D.C. Streetcar job fair on May 14 at the Northeast office of the D.C. Department of Employment Services for operators, mechanics, parts clerks and service attendants. Once hired, the team will be led by an experienced transit management team, said Dara Ward, a spokesperson for D.C. Streetcar, a program that's administered through the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT).

"RATP Dev McDonald Transit (RDMT) team is working in partnership with The Midtown Group, which will serve in a human resource and administrative capacity for the team," said Ward. "Together, they're looking for a committed, community-minded workforce. There is a strong belief in camaraderie with the management team – everyone is working toward the same goal and everyone is doing the job."

RDMT which served as the operations and maintenance team for the D.C. Streetcar program since July 2012, is a joint-venture formed by RATP Dev America and its transit subsidiary, Fort Worth, Texas-based McDonald Transit Associates, Inc.

Ward expects the streetcar program to eventually hire approximately 30 people for safety-sensitive positions from the Washington metropolitan area. Candidates for the permanent positions must be drug-free, she said, adding that the hires fall under the District's First Source Law, which requires about 51 percent of new hires be D.C. residents.

The city's three streetcars are passenger vehicles that operate on fixed rails on public streets. The

streetcars are modern with air conditioning and a low-floor center section for wheelchair accessibility.

Expected to start services in late 2013, the streetcars will run its first route between the H Street and Benning Road corridor in Northeast. It's a 2.4 mile segment that's expected to serve the residents, businesses, commuters and visitors between Union Station and the Anacostia River, and future routes to areas such as the Georgetown waterfront are also in the plans. The start of the regular service by the streetcars this fall marks its return to D.C. after more than 50 years.

Gray joined city officials May 1 to mark the launch of the streetcar testing phase at the D.C. Streetcar Testing and Commissioning site on South Capitol Street in Southwest.

Testing will be conducted by engineers from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Inekon, the company that manufactured the vehicles, until the fall, when DDOT plans to move the streetcars to the H Street/Benning Road corridor to begin certification on the Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue line. Each line must be certified individually as it joins the D.C. Streetcar system. Similar to vehicle testing, certification involves testing each component of the line to verify its safety before the start of passenger service.

"We're excited to start the post-delivery testing phase," said DDOT director, Terry Bellamy, at the May 1 event.

Even beyond the direct employment the streetcars will provide, according to DDOT, the secondary employment impact of D.C. Streetcar will be much greater. The District expects that the economic development spurred by streetcars will provide a number of new jobs for District residents, and will provide greater access to existing jobs in other neighborhoods for residents who rely on transit to get to work.

"We are eager to get started," said Lou Brusati, RDMT's general manager for D.C. Streetcar. "The excitement around the project continues to build and working along with the District's Department of Transportation, we are committed to getting the streetcars up and running here in the District."