Circulator to No Longer Ascend Wisconsin?

DDOT/WMATA to Cut Ciculator Service through Georgetown?

On Friday, Jennifer Altemus, President of CAG, sent out an alert on the possibility that DDOT/WMATA are considering the possibility of cutting Circulator service up Wisconsin Ave. This was the first GM heard of the proposal, but the proposal has a strong bit of deja vu surrounding it.

Right now the Circulator travels along M St. from downtown, turns up Wisconsin Ave., and ends its route at Whitehaven St., just behind the British School. This was not always the route it took through Georgetown. Originally it entered Georgetown on K St., took a right up Wisconsin, and turned back to downtown at M St.

In May 2007, the Circulator was extended up Wisconsin to its current route to take over the Blue Bus’s Foggy Bottom route. In less than a year after this extension, DDOT was already floating plans to cut it (despite the fact that the Blue Bus route it replaced was cut once the extension took place). After strong pushback from the community, DDOT decided to keep the extension.

Around the same time that DDOT was considering cutting the Circulator route, WMATA was cutting the 30 Series service through Georgetown. It was partially in consideration of the effect the changes to the 30 Series had to bus service through Georgetown that DDOT decided not to cut the Circulator service.

Yet here they (apparently) are, back again considering to cut bus service up Wisconsin Ave. For some reason DDOT just can’t give up the dream of cutting Circulator service up Wisconsin. This is a bad idea. Georgetowners have lost a lot of downtown service since the 30 series changes. With the re-opening of a more street-friendly and vibrant Social Safeway only 8-10 months away, cutting the Circulator to its door would be counter-productive. Finally, with the long-term proposal of adding a bus lane to Wisconsin, it seems short sighted to cut bus service on the corridor. If bottlenecks are arising, targeted removal of parking along Wisconsin Ave. would be the better option to significant service reduction.

If anything, the Circulator should be extended up Wisconsin to Calvert to cater to Glover Park. In recent years, Glover Park has emerged as a destination neighborhood despite its distance to the Metro and lack of abundant parking. Adding service from the successful Circulator route would be immensely popular, in GM’s opinion.

If you agree with GM, please write to DDOT (, the Mayor (, and Jack Evan’s office ( to object to this unnecessary and unfair service cut.



Filed under Transit

16 responses to “Circulator to No Longer Ascend Wisconsin?

  1. What a typically galactically stupid idea by DDOT. Part of the point of the Circulator was to bring more tourists to Georgetown, and many of those tourists are not going to hoof it all the way up Wisconsin Avenue to go to The Flea Market, Dumbarton Oaks, Tudor Place, etc.

    I agree that extending the run up to, say, Calvert Street would be terrific. I would probably drop into Pearson’s and Glover Park Hardware more often if I knew I could catch the Circulator there.

  2. Andy

    Couldn’t agree with you and William more. The beauty of the circulator is that it is quick and reliable. I often take it and walk to Calvert from Whitehaven because the 30s are so unreliable.
    I would love an extension up to Calvert but where would the turn around be?
    if DDOT cuts the extension of Wisconsin where would the turn around in Georgetown be?
    I think what would save congestion is eliminating bus stops in Georgetown and up Wisconsin. A stop every block not only slows up the busses but hurts businesses. Have widely spaced stops and people will walk by more stores and may stop an buy something.
    I’m email all of those people now!
    Thanks for the heads up.

  3. GM

    My idea to send the Circulator up to Glover Park was a bit of an afterthought, but the more I think about it, the better it sounds. Perhaps it could go up to Davis, take a right on 36th, then back out to Wisconsin.

    Possible drawbacks:
    -I imagine they like having Georgetown as the terminus so that they can highlight that it goes there. If it were the Glover Park-Union Station route, it would be less immediately obvious that the bus goes to Georgetown. (Obviously they could just keep calling it the Georgetown-Union Station route, but that would possibly confuse people trying to get to Glover Park)
    -The parking lot behind the British School is a good place to park buses. No similar options in Glover Park jump to mind.

    If extending the Circulator to Glover Park can’t happen, it would be nice if a shuttle along Wisconsin between the waterfront and Calvert were put in place.

    They actually did temporarily cut some stops along Wisconsin around the same time they agreed to keep the extension. The stops found their way back somehow though.

    The turnaround in Georgetown would presumably what it used to be: the bus came down K from Washington Circle, turned up Wisconsin and then took a right on M to go back downtown. (For what it’s worth, it’s not like there was a parking lot for the buses under the old route.)

  4. if anything needs to be cut on wisconsin, it’s the cars. get the people out of their one-person-per-vehicle standard up there. maybe this should be the road that DC introduces congestion pricing on first.

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  6. Umm, why do you need both the 30s service and the DC Circulator service overlapping on Wisconsin Ave.? This is a no brainer, other than the fact that people like the Van Hool buses and the graphic scheme of the Circulator more than they do the regular WMATA service and livery scheme (which is changing for the better)?

  7. GM

    Richard, I don’t see why overlapping another bus route is an argument for cutting the Circulator. Throughout its route, when it’s not overlapping or closely paralleling the 30 Series, it’s doing to same with the D6.

    More importantly this is about overall service levels. The changes to the 30 Series in 2007 cut the frequency of 30 series bus service through Georgetown (particularly if you leave out the 31 bus, which doesn’t actually go downtown). Add to it the fact that the Circulator extension replaced an existing service (the Blue Bus) and it’s clear that in the aggregate, there will be fewer buses going through upper Georgetown at the very time when a new Safeway development is moving towards a denser built environment and Glover Park is becoming a more popular nightlife destination.

    I understand that the Circulator cannot be a panacea that simply replaces existing bus service with better branding. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to argue that the Georgetown retail and entertainment corridor continues up Wisconsin to the doorstep of Glover Park. To the extent that the Circulator is meant to tie continuous retail corridors together, it should continue up Wisconsin to Glover Park.

  8. Jayce

    LOOOVE the circulator! Thanks for the article and update, will continue to support the route in hopes that it remains. Great visual and timly new GM!

  9. Hallock

    I second your response to Richard. For me the Circulator is more reliable, and faster than the 30s. Because the 30s go from one end of the city to the other they are often (always) delayed. The Circulator has a long route as well but its still manages to do it much faster. On another note its cheaper – so who wouldn’t prefer a far superior service at a better price?

  10. Ken Archer

    A compromise position that I would support is to reduce the number of Circulator stops on Wisconsin from 1-per-block to 1-per-2-blocks. DDOT reduced the number of stops before and the “community” (a couple of people) objected loudly. DDOT should at least give that a try to see its effect on Circulator bottlenecks.

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  13. Luke

    Love the circulator. It is the best way to get from the Glover Park/Burleith area to downtown and especially Union Station. I work in Fairfax but often times come home, park the car and hop right on the Circulator to get downtown to head out for dinner and drinks. I couldn’t ask for a better and more consistent service. I most definitely do not want to see it go!

  14. d. odonnell

    If you have ever taken the D2 in the morning rush hour, you will realize how importante that little bus is.
    During the non tourist season ,smaller buses like the previos blue could be used by the circulator,buses, during non rush hours.
    I also think that the circulator could go up to the cathedral during tourist season. april – sept.
    I’m sure a lot of people would leave their cars at home if they knew how easy it was to jump on the bus for their Georgetown shoping,not to mention down town.

  15. Jenny

    What a bummer to hear that they are cutting the service to upper Wisconsin Avenue. I live in Burleith and am always taking the Circulator bus down to K Street to the Border’s Book Store or the Staples at 19th & L St. The 30s buses are completely unreliable and despite route splits that were supposed to take care of buses clumping together, they still clump together two or three at a time and leave you waiting for half an hour or 40 minutes on the weekend if you rely on them to get anywhere. And don’t even get me started ont he D6 bus and how unreliable that is as a way to get to K Street. The regular Metrobuses simply aren’t very reliable. The Circulator really does come every 10-15 minutes. Leave it to the District to kill a good thing.

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