Several Circulator Changes Starting Next Week

This caught GM a bit unaware: Next week DDOT is making some changes to the Circulator route through Georgetown. It primarily involves eliminating stops. According the the Post:

Stops will be eliminated at Wisconsin Avenue and P Street NW, both eastbound and westbound; at Wisconsin Avenue and N Street NW heading westbound, and at M and 31st streets NW heading eastbound.

A stop will be added at 35th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, where the Georgetown-Union Station buses turn around to head back toward Union Station.

DDOT has long disliked the fact that the Circulator goes up Wisconsin Ave. and blames this segment for delays on the line. It has repeatedly either tried to eliminate stops or eliminate the extension altogether. All the attempts at stop elimination have been rolled back (GM remebers, for instance, that the Wisconsin and R stop was eliminated a few years ago, only to return).

Bus stop elimination always pleases some people (namely those that don’t use that stop) and angers others (namely those that do). And it is a balancing act for the system to ensure only 10 minute headways between buses. Eliminating a handful of stops at N and P St. probably makes sense in that the stops at O and Q will still exist and are really very close to the eliminated stops.

However, eliminating the 31st St. stop is a mistake. Right now there is a stop immediately in front of the Sports Zone and another in front of Barnes and Noble. There really shouldn’t be two stops so close together, so eliminating one makes sense. However it’s the one in front of Sports Zone that should go.

As it is, Circulator buses heading west on M St. from Wisconsin Ave. immediately have to pull over to pick up or drop off passengers. This ends up disrupting the flow of traffic through the intersection. The stop down in front of Barnes and Noble is far enough from M and Wisconsin that a bus can easily move in and out of traffic to service passengers. That one should stay.

GM misread the DDOT release, the stop being eliminated is the stop in front of the Sports Zone, which is confusingly called “M and 31st” on the press release despite being called “M and Wisconsin” on the Circulator map.

The new stop actually makes GM laugh a bit. At an ANC meeting several months ago, an elderly woman stood up and testified quite vigorously for the creation of a new stop at 35th and Whitehaven. She argued that the buses sit there waiting to start their run, so why can’t they allow passengers to board? Apparently DDOT couldn’t come up with a reason why not, and thus a new stop is born.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Several Circulator Changes Starting Next Week

  1. I may be completely wrong, but I believe the Circulator bus drivers refer to the Barnes and Noble stop as the “Thomas Jefferson” stop, and the Sports Zone stop as the “M and 31st” stop, so we may need a bit of clarification. Both stops are already metro bus stops, so whether or not one of these are eliminated traffic is still going to be held up there. Also I believe you meant “heading east” rather than “heading west”.

  2. I think the elimination of stops on Wisconsin make sense, and I think you have a point on keeping the B&N stop rather than the Wisconsin and M. If I had to guess, they probably picked the Wisconsin/M stop to stay in part because they’re removing the Wisconsin and N, and they wanted to have one stop for the “center” of the neighborhood.

    To me, the real good news is the consolidation of stops on K street, which should help with cutting down the rush hour travel times on the whole route.

    One thing I was unclear about is whether they’ll be eliminating the Wisconsin/31st stop for the Rosslyn-Dupont route, or keeping it. Seems to me that you could have confusion either way.

  3. Topher

    William: you’re right on both accounts. I was facing south (in my mind) and turning left so I mistakenly called it “west”. And I agree that it’s not just the Circulator stop that should be removed from in front of Sports Zone. All the buses should only stop in front of B&N.

    Jacques: That was how the Circulator was originally planned, but stops crept into its route over time. I predict the waxing and waning of stops will continue. (For instance, once there’s a K St. Transitway, they may feel that stops can go back in since traffic will be so reduced).

  4. andy

    Great news – hoepfully this will speed up the busses (everyone wins), reduce congestion (everyone wins again) and help businesses by making people walk a bit more.
    The circulator should really thin out the stops at the terminus of each line – as that is where it makes the most sense and would likely impact the fewest number of people. I’m for keeping the Wisc and R stop but getting rid of the Safeway stop in favor of the new Wisc and 35th stop.

  5. (1) What about the route changes that were supposed to happen in the new fiscal year (after Oct 1)? Specifically, extending the Rosslyn-Dupont route to U & 14th and adding a Georgetown-Mall route?

    (2) The press release mentioned consolidation of stops on the Rosslyn-Dupont route, but the only stop on that route is M & 31st eastbound. So, I’m assuming the B&N stop will go away for the Rosslyn-Dupont route and the Georgetown-Union Station route.

  6. George

    The stop at M and Wisconsin (in front of Sports Zone) is being eliminated. There is a yellow sign (at least there was last Saturday) at the bus stop notifying customers that it will cease to exist. Perhaps GM needs to fact check or do his own research instead of relying on a WAPO article for his blog.

  7. Joan Kennan

    Will the Circulator still stop at Wisconsin and Dumbarton (heading away from M St.), and also in front of the Georgetown Inn (heading toward M St.)???

  8. Topher

    George: You’re right, I misread the press release from DDOT. That release says that it was the “M and 31st St” stop that was being eliminated, but the Circulator map calls the stop in front of Sports Zone “M and Wisconsin”.

    Joan: It appears that both those two stops you mention will remain.

    Here is an updated map:
    http://www.dccirculator.com/images/maps/circulatormapbrochure.pdf

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