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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 05/10/2010

Common sense on streetcar wires

By editors

The possibility of overhead streetcar wires in downtown Washington has been the subject of much debate. On Thursday, the debate took its most serious turn yet, when a panel of experts from around the world met to discuss streetcar propulsion. Meeting summaries are available at Greater Greater Washington and BeyondDC, but the basic conclusion of the seminar was that:

  1. Overhead wire systems are the worldwide standard because they are the easiest, most flexible and most affordable option.
  2. There are lots of other propulsion technologies, but most are either too expensive or have technical problems. The only alternative that works well is to use batteries or battery-like capacitors.
  3. The battery/capacitor system is proven and
    affordable, but has drawbacks: It's only good for distances up to about a mile, and it can leave cars too underpowered for air conditioning.
  4. The panel concluded that a hybrid system with a mix of wires for long stretches and batteries/capacitors for important view points is probably the best solution at this time, though more possibilities may be available in the future.
Overall, the meeting seemed to add weight to the proposed compromise solution that would allow wires inside the L'Enfant city, but protect the most important sites. It's a common-sense solution that the city would be wise to implement.

Dan Malouff blogs at The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By editors  | May 10, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Local blog network, transportation  
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