So, we can all basically agree that DDOT rolled out the Circulator in a pretty ham-handed fashion. Despite the fact that the takeover of the Blue Bus was well known to be coming, there was no official word coming from DDOT or the Circulator website (which, for what it’s worth, is registered to the Downtown Business District Corp., so perhaps they control it).
But more troubling is the sudden change of the old route. As you may be able to tell from above, the Union Station-Georgetown route now stays enters Georgetown on K St. before turning up Wisconsin towards M. This change has some benefits but a lot of drawbacks. (As previously discussed, the new route mirrors the old Blue Bus route but removes a couple stops including the stop in front of the Marriott).
The Benefits: It will get you to Georgetown a bit faster. M St. (particularly on weekends and during evening rush) gets pretty backed up going westbound. Staying on K will avoid that (although K St. itself, particularly just west of Washington Circle, can get bad itself). Second, some argue this will avoid the confusion an redundancy of running two Circulators along the same road.
The Drawbacks: Getting to east Georgetown from downtown will be more difficult. You either have to transfer to another bus or walk all the way up from M. Also, Penn and 24th is a very popular place for people to pick up the Circulator to Georgetown; that stop is gone. Finally, splitting the line up like this will add confusion and tourists will likely struggle with it.
Maybe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and people’s behavior will adjust to the new routes (wouldn’t an effective communications campaign been a good way to start that off?), but at least initially it seems people aren’t too happy with the changes.
And it goes without saying (but of course GM will go ahead and say it) that involving, or at least informing, the community before making this decision was the least that DDOT should have done. Maybe they took away a lesson from last year’s attempted route change that notifying the community will only result is headaches. GM definitely hopes that’s not it, but it’s a definite possibility.