Circulator Changes a Bad Deal for Georgetown

The other day, GM reported on the proposals to increase Circulator service across the District. The additions are great and will be well appreciated. But them came at a steep cost to Georgetown riders. These changes (summarized here), coupled with recent changes to the 30 series, significantly degrades the bus service for Georgetowners. DDOT should think long and hard before making these changes.

The Good

If the proposed additions came with no reductions to current service, this would be a fantastic change. DDOT is proposing to extend Circulator service up Wisconsin Ave. to National Cathedral. It is also proposing to extend the Rosslyn to Dupont route (which goes through Georgetown) to U St. Outside of Georgetown, DDOT is proposing a route to the National Mall, and small extensions to other lines.

The Bad

DDOT is not proposing to simply add a mile to the end of the Georgetown-Union Station route. It is proposing that the bus to the Cathedral only run as far east at McPherson Square. Moreover, the old Georgetown to Union Station route would no longer climb Wisconsin north of M St.

DDOT has long wanted to axe this leg of the route, but this is what makes it the most useful to a large portion of Georgetowners. Anyone living north of O St. (particularly west of, say, 30th St.) has a much shorter walk to Wisconsin Ave. than M St. Now with the proposed changes, if a Georgetowner wants to ride the Circulator past McPherson Square, they either have to change buses or walk all the way to M and Wisconsin.

Why this is Really Bad

As you may recall, WMATA just put in similar changes to the 30 series. Now Georgetowners looking to take the bus to anywhere east of Archives, has to either switch buses or catch the once-an-hour 30S. All other buses stop either at Foggy Bottom or 7th St.

Maybe there isn’t a huge population affected, but the cumulative changes significantly reduces bus accessibility. DDOT and WMATA all chalk this up to making buses more efficient, but that’s only part of the story. Yes, headways (i.e. the time between buses) increases with longer routes, so shortening routes can shorten headways. But you can also shorten headways by adding more buses.

There is a balance that DDOT and WMATA has to achieve when measuring benefits and costs, but after the reduction in service that Georgetowners faced to improve the overall efficiency of the 30 series, it is simply not fair to ask us to agree to further service reductions to extend the Circulator to new neighborhoods.


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6 responses to “Circulator Changes a Bad Deal for Georgetown

  1. I’m moving to Georgetown in 2 weeks. Right off Wisconsin. This breaks my little commuting heart.

  2. The Circulator proposal, to split the Georgetown to Union Station route into two overlapping route, has two very positive impacts for Georgetown and the rest of the route. First, shorter routes are more reliable so the two overlapping routes would both perform better. Second, the proposal results in a combined 5 minute frequency in the busiest portion of the route between Wisconsin Ave. and McPherson Square. This solves overcrowding problems that occur at certain times of the day on the route in an efficient manner.

    If the route split is implemented, it is still a couple of years away. Read about the entire Circulator Transit Development Plan at
    and attend the Circulator semi-annual public meeting on October 20th in Georgetown.

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