Friday, February 19, 2016

Choo Choo Seven: Streetcars, Hashtags, and DC's Best Situation Comedy

Yesterday the Mayor announced that the long awaited DC Streetcar would begin operation next Saturday, February 27. After years of delays, millions in cost overruns, four mayoral administrations, and loss of much public goodwill, the 2-mile long section of track will finally open for passenger service in Northeast DC.

That's all well and good and you can skip to the end of this post for some details of the operation and whatnot. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't address how the Mayor announced the news.

The flyer created to advertise the opening was simple enough. OK, it did feature a mishmash of font styles, font sizes, and incongruent graphical elements. But, the point was made. Be at 13th St and H NE next Saturday morning.
It also made a discombobulated attempt at a clever hashtag, "#Choo/Choo!7" #Choo/Choo!7 is everything. Mostly due to the fact that it can't technically function as a hashtag, I didn't realize it was a play on words until hours after the announcement. Choo Choo = 22 and that shape next to the streetcar is, in fact, the number seven. Choo choo seven. Two two seven. 2/27. February 27. Opening day. OK, finally, it makes sense.

But, 227 also has another meaning for DC. It was the title of one of the great American sitcoms in the 1980s. 227 was a television adaptation of a 1970s play set in Chicago. But the TV version was set at "227 Lexington Place," in Washington DC. The show centered on the everyday life stories of residents in the 227 building, but mostly Marla Gibb's character, Mary Jenkins. You'd probably also recognize Jackée Harry's character Sandra, and Helen Martin as Pearl.

I got nostalgic and started watching 227 episodes last night. An episode from season 3 is apropos to DC's sometimes cruel real estate landscape. "There Goes the Building" (embedded below) touches on the very timely conflicts around tenant-landlord relations, homelessness, rising rents, and displacement of the poor. 227 was a sitcom, but like a lot of the good ones from the 1970s and 80s, it managed to directly confront real life inner city issues in a competent, adult manner. Enjoy.

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As for the streetcar, the initial rides will be free! For how long...? Unknown. I'm guessing for the first year or so. The hours of operation will be 6:00 AM - 12:00 AM on Mon-Thu, 6:00 AM - 2:00 AM on Fridays, 8:00 AM - 2:00 AM on Saturdays and 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM on holidays. Shockingly, there will be no Sunday service at the outset. That's a decision I don't understand at all. Just... why.

The trains will run along H Street NE and Benning Rd NE from Union Station to Oklahoma Ave. It's quite a short route at 8 stops, it runs in mixed traffic, and the route is redundant with the X series buses. All that being said, I'll see you on the 27th! For all the cynicism and nay-saying, I'll be excited to ride and, I don't know, I feel like I'll be riding it more than I anticipated in the past. Of course I'll give a full report and photos from day one. 

Have a great weekend everyone!