DDOT Exploring Circulator Extension

DDOT Exploring Circulator Extension

When it rains, it pours. We were just days away from losing half our Circulator service when the Mayor stepped in to save it. Now news comes that we might double our service. The Examiner is reporting that DDOT and the Georgetown BID are in discussions to turn the remaining Blue Bus into a Circulator. This would mean a Circulator would go from the Rosslyn metro to Dupont Circle, via Georgetown.

This is all a bit of Deja Vu all over again. In 2007, DDOT worked with the BID to modify the then relatively new Circulator to take over the Georgetown-to-Foggy Bottom Blue Bus route. The BID always considered the Blue Bus to be a demonstration project for what reliable bus service could do in Georgetown.   Having the Circulator take over the Foggy Bottom route was a culmination of that.

Then DDOT proposed to eliminate the route extension, but the residents made a lot of noise; and the Mayor stepped in to save it. Then a year later, we did it all over again. Now it would seem that the current route is secure. At least for now.

Hopefully after the double near miss we had with the Wisconsin Ave. extension, DDOT and the BID will make sure that if they do add a new Circulator route it will be for the long term.

According to the Examiner, while the chips seem to be falling in place for the new Circulator route, there is no timetable for the service to be added.

11 Comments

Filed under Transit

11 responses to “DDOT Exploring Circulator Extension

  1. This is excellent news. Though I wonder about the maneuverability of Circulator buses on that teeny tiny street up by the Brewmiester mansion!

  2. Ken Archer

    Is anyone (ANC, CAG) asking DDOT for the data behind their ‘15% of the costs for 2% of the ridership’ figure? I think we’re declaring victory too soon.

    Either the figure is correct, and we need to take measures to increase ridership or decrease costs (like eliminating 1 or 2 stops on Wisconsin), or the figure is misleading and we need to expose it.

  3. Andy

    For what it’s worth on Sunday when riding the blue bus the driver had a circulator uniform on – hopefully this means the change is coming very soon.

  4. GM

    William: Do you mean Sunderland? I agree that it might be a tight squeeze. But it’s not like the Blue Bus is less wide than a full size Circulator. They could readjust the route though. And it would be better for it to get right up to the Metro stop anyway.

    Ken: I thought I saw somewhere where DDOT acknowledged that the stats didn’t take into account the effect of reopening the Safeway. It’s not a complete backing away from the 2%/15% number, but it’s a start. The whole study was pretty flawed in my opinion. It only looked at weekday mornings. I also doubt cutting the service would have resulted in a 15% reduction in costs. Fixed costs just aren’t cut that easily.

    Andy: That’s interesting about the uniforms. I’d be shocked if we’re so close to roll-out that they’re already handing out uniforms. Maybe the driver works both routes?

  5. Yes, that’s right, Sunderland Place. I had forgotten. Seems a bit of a tight squeeze to me because remember that the Circulator bus is not much wider but definitely much longer than the Blue Bus, and if it sticks to the Sunderland Place route it will have to go down a narrow one-way street that allows street parking, and then try to turn right onto 19th Street.

    It might make more sense for them to continue up from New Hampshire to 2oth Street to the Circle, turn right onto the Circle, and then turn right again onto 19th Street and head down.

  6. Shipsa01

    Ken and GM – has anyone looked into costs / benefits of expanding the service up to Glover Park (Calvert Street)?

  7. Ken Archer

    If the Circulator went north of Whitehaven, to either (a) Glover Park (turn around at police station on Idaho), (b) Tenleytown (turn around at bus bays) or (c) Friendship (turn around at bus bays), ridership would increase significantly on Wisconsin.

  8. I think going up to Tenleytown/Friendship is way too far. We’d have less frequent bus service and be back to the “bunched 30s” like we used to have. But that’s just my opinion.

  9. Ken Archer

    A bus up to Glover Park or Tenley would HAVE to limit stops to every 2-3 blocks at most to keep them from bunching like the 30s.

    A bus up to Tenleytown would get ridership to the Metro, Best Buy, Wilson High and Wilson’s awesomely renovated gym/pool.

    A bus up to 2nd District Police Station (Glover/Cleveland Park) would get ridership to WholePaycheck, new Cleveland Park Giant, and restaurants.

  10. Shipsa01

    Very good points. I like the idea of eliminating a bunch of stops. The 14th street line of the Circulator should be the example – I think it has a total of seven stops. So for Wisconsin Avenue, I think it would make sense to get rid of the ones at Dumbarton (even though that’s my current stop) and P Street.

    Then if you expanded service (I wouldn’t go further north than Idaho) you could put one at Half Place, one at Calvert Street, one at Mass and Wisconsin (North of Mass by the Cathedral), and finally Newark Street.

    To me it seems like tourists like the Circlulator a lot better than Metro buses and this could be an easy way to get them to the Cathedral.

    Thoughts? Could they also break up lines at Washington Circle if they expanded north on Wisconsin.

  11. GM

    Just my opinion, but I don’t think it would make a ton of sense to extend the Circulator beyond Glover Park. I agree that there would be a material increase in riders if they just extended the route a few blocks to GP, but I think the marginal gains would fall significantly if you tried to go beyond Calvert.

    For them to even just extend the route to GP would take a huge effort. That’s Ward Three, so Evans isn’t likely to do any heavy lifting. Moreover, the Georgetown BID probably doesn’t see much to gain in the extension. The pressure would have to come from Cheh and Glover Park.

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