This is not good news. The concept of creating dedicated lanes for buses is very appealing, especially since, currently, the Circulator buses and other routes on this stretch operate below 10 miles per hour at commercial speeds. Retrofitting the corridor could be a low-cost, rapidly implemented solution in the heart of the nation’s capital. It would be important to upgrade it as one item on the list of infrastructure projects in the capital region, as part of the nation’s “economic stimulus package” (but this could just be wishful thinking.)
Even though light rail seems to be more appealing to most of the general public and other decision makers, it’s worth nothing that a well-designed and -operated bus system in the corridor is much more cost-effective, and also has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases to a greater degree than electric trains, given rail’s heavy reliance on coal power sources in the D.C. metropolitan area. See, for example, the World Resources Institute’s recent analysis of Maryland’s proposed Purple Line corridor.