I have often extolled the virtues of the D.C. Circulator system. The unique branding and routing combination has served to make the system valuable to the infrequent rider. The routes served fill major gaps in the metro service, but provide metro-level service frequencies. Unlike regular local service, where one has to remember route names, timetables and maps, Circulator buses offer a simple route on a simple schedule with the name of the route right on the top of the bus.
So I was disheartened to hear about DDOT’s decision to cut service on some of the Circulator routes. I was particularly upset at the rerouting of the Georgetown route, and not only because it is the line I use most frequently. The current line, traveling along Massachusetts avenue, K Street, Pennsylvania, M Street., and Wisconsin is most functional specifically because it is so elementary. If you were to get off a westbound Circulator downtown, you could simply cross the street to take an eastbound Circulator. The new layout of the route, with a loop being made from Washington Circle, K Street, Wisconsin, M Street, and Pennsylvania, back to the circle, is not nearly as functional. Not only does the elimination of stops along Wisconsin north of M street cut off a fairly inaccessible neighborhood, but the rerouting along K Street (which, while dynamic, is not nearly as congested or as visited as it’s northern cousin, M) cuts off an important connection to the heart of Georgetown for eastbound travelers.
Every budget is a hairy experience, and I understand that cuts have to be made, but I wish that Metro would actively incubate what has the potential to be a very strong circulator system.