As reported in the Current last week, the DC Department of Transportation has decided to keep the Wisconsin Ave. leg of the Georgetown-to-Union Station Circulator route. The agency had proposed cutting the service in order to improve the route’s total performance. Several community groups opposed the change, and DDOT acknowledged that that had a lot to do with their decision.
This is the second time Georgetown has successfully fought to preserve this service from DDOT’s threatened closure. Way back in 2009 DDOT first proposed ending the leg up Wisconsin Ave. A coalition of community groups and elected officials helped convince the city to not make the change.
But DDOT has never really changed its position on the Wisconsin Ave. leg. And it hasn’t with this most recent backtracking. It still doesn’t think the ridership up Wisconsin Ave. justifies the route. But it knows when to give in to political pressure.
The Wisconsin Ave. leg will not emerge totally unscathed from this latest go around. Several stops will be removed. They include the eastbound stop at 28th and Pennsylvania, the eastbound stop at Thomas Jefferson St., both stops at Wisconsin and P St., and both stops at Wisconsin and R St. Surely residents would prefer to keep those stops, but if the other option is no Circulator at all, this will likely be acceptable. (Query whether this wouldn’t be a smart tactic by DDOT to propose the total service cuts as a means to get rid of stops instead).
The overall performance of the Georgetown-to-Union Station Circulator is still suffering greatly. Perhaps it was unfair for DDOT to place so much blame for that failure on this one leg, but taking out some stops won’t make a huge dent in that performance problem. It will take transit-only lanes through downtown to significantly improve cross-town surface transit. This, of course, would be part of the streetcar expansion. Unfortunately Council Chairman Mendelson has for all intents and purposes killed that expansion, meaning that the best hope to improve crosstown transit is also effectively dead.
But Circulator buses will still run up Wisconsin Ave. It’s not perfect, but it’s still better than the alternative.