An official website of Arlington County government

Streetcar Overview

Rendering of what streetcar might look like along Columbia Pike.
Across the United States, cities are choosing to rebuild streetcar systems. Streetcars have been successful in Seattle, Tacoma, Tampa, Little Rock, Phoenix and in many other places.

Streetcar key to Crystal City-Pentagon City (Route 1), Columbia Pike visions

Arlington County is planning a modern streetcar system in two key areas - Columbia Pike and Crystal City-Pentagon City – to help meet the growing demand for transit in these heavily trafficked corridors. During the next 30 years, 65% of Arlington’s population growth and 44% of employment growth will be in the Columbia Pike and Route 1 corridors. Current transportation options can’t handle this growth. The streetcar will provide a high-capacity transit system that connects to job centers in Skyline, Pentagon City and Crystal City and to the regional Metrorail network – at a fraction of the cost of a new Metrorail line.

Modern streetcars are a strategic investment for Arlington, one that builds on the County’s successful investment in Metro. Streetcars fit well with the County’s smart growth, or transit-and-pedestrian-oriented, approach to development and redevelopment. Environmentally friendly, safe, comfortable and accessible, modern streetcars have been found to encourage folks to use transit, and to attract high-quality development in urban areas. Arlington’s streetcar system will help fulfill community visions for the Pike and Route 1 as more walkable, transit-oriented areas. In the Route 1 corridor, the streetcar will help ensure that Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard remain among the nation’s most desirable and successful commercial areas.

During the past half-century, Arlington has learned that transit-oriented development pays huge community dividends. By providing an array of high-quality transit options, the County has reduced traffic congestion and created vibrant urban neighborhoods with a high quality of life – great places to live, work and play.

County government has worked with the community for years to plan and guide future development for Crystal City and Columbia Pike. In each case, the plans adopted by the County Board recommended the building of a streetcar system.

Goals of Arlington’s streetcar system

  • Improve mobility for corridor residents, employees, customers, and visitors.
  • Contribute to and serve as a catalyst for economic development.
  • Enhance livability and the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of the Route 1 corridor and along Columbia Pike.
  • Help achieve Arlington’s goals of creating more walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods.
  • Support the development of an integrated regional multimodal transportation system.
  • Provide a safe environment for all modes of travel.