Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Southwest May Have Three Circulator Routes by 2024

DC Circulator service to Southwest will be restored and enhanced if proposed changes by DDOT are approved (the DC Council already approved funding for a 1.4-mile westward extension of the Union Station – Navy Yard route along M Street to the Waterfront Metro to begin operations in FY 2015). Last week, DDOT released the DC Circulator Transit Development Plan for the next 10 years that shows a total of three Circulator lines that could service Southwest by 2024. Aside from the aforementioned extension, the Convention Center – Southwest Waterfront route would be restored in Phase II by FY 2020 (it was discontinued in 2011 and replaced by the 74 Bus) and a new route would connect Dupont Circle to Southwest via 17th Street, NW and Maine Avenue during Phase III by FY 2024. These new (and restored) lines would coincide with the opening of The Wharf and other planned development in Southwest. 

It is estimated that ridership will increase by nearly 14% with the Southwest extension of the Union Station – Navy Yard route; however, ridership along this route is currently the lowest of the five existing Circulator routes. This route extension (along with two others) did not meet several key Circulator performance metrics, but it will still move forward since it was already funded by the DC Council. DDOT will be evaluating whether the Near SE/Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront area can support year-round Saturday service and year-round service after 7pm on the Union Station – Navy Yard route, which would benefit Southwest once this line is extended to the west. Currently, service hours vary depending on the time of year; there is no plan to offer Sunday service on this route. 

Of the three lines proposed for Southwest, ridership projections for the new Dupont Circle – Southwest Waterfront route are highest. Over 1.2 million annual riders are expected on the new route, compared to 762,000 riders for the restored Convention Center – Southwest Waterfront route. 

During the public engagement process earlier in the year, there were six pop-up events across the city where surveys were collected, in addition to online surveys. Of the six pop-up events, the most responses were collected at the Waterfront Metro station pop-up, garnering 15% of all survey responses. More than half of the respondents to the survey indicated that the Southwest Waterfront should be served next by the Circulator – the most of any location, followed by U Street Corridor/Shaw/Howard University. 

Other new routes are planned as well in other parts of the city – one would connect Columbia Heights to Brookland and NoMa, while another would go from the National Mall to Union Station, as well as extensions of existing lines. Circulator fares would increase to $1.50 on SmarTrip and $2.00 cash from the current fare of $1.00. 

The DC Circulator Transit Development Plan is open for public comment until November 7. A Semi-Annual Open House on October 20 from 6-8pm will provide residents the opportunity to weigh in on the plan. It will be located at Pinstripes in Georgetown (1064 Wisconsin Avenue, NW).  In addition, comments may be submitted by clicking on the contact us link located on the DC Circulator website. For more information on the TDP, contact Circe Torruellas or call 202-671-2847.

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