A D.C. streetcar in “test mode” crashed into a car Saturday, in the latest black eye for the much-anticipated, but long-delayed transit line.
No one was injured in the collision, DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said. And there was “no indication” that the crash would affected the line’s scheduled opening the week of Jan. 19.
Calling it a “minor accident,” Sanders said such incidents are to be expected in any major city. “These things happen from time to time,” he said. “I hate to use the word ‘routine’ but anywhere in the country where you have streetcars and buses, this happens.”
The 2.2 mile line runs along H Street and Benning Road NE, and once open will be the first streetcar line in the city in 50 years.
The accident initially looked much more serious in photos posted to Twitter by bystanders. Several showed the gleaming new street car in contact with the passenger side of a black sedan that was crossing in front of it at the intersection of 6th and H Streets NE.
But the streetcar was in “test mode,” Sanders said, when they typically are traveling at speeds around 6 to 7 miles per hour.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The timeline for opening the streetcar has been a bone of contention for months between the Gray administration and safety oversight officials, including the Federal Transit Administration, which expressed concerns about the speedy timeline.
DDOT officials and former mayor Vincent Gray had previousy vowed they would have the streetcar running by the end of last year, but in the waning hours of 2014, they acknowledged it was not ready for the public.
Gray has said, “we don’t want to rush for the sake of rushing.”