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Gray boosts transit in his final budget

In his last budget as mayor of DC, Vincent Gray continued to put funding into the DC Streetcar and also will expand the Circulator.

Likely transit projects in the near future. Map by the author.
Purple: streetcar; red: Circulator; green: Park Service Mall Circulator. Thin lines are running today or under construction. Thick lines represent extensions or new lines being studied.
All routes are approximate and don't include every twist and turn or multiple alternatives.

The capital budget devotes significant money on an ongoing basis to the streetcar. One quarter of all extra revenue above the base estimate for 2015 will go into streetcar construction (assuming future mayors keep it going). Over the next 6 years, that will bring in about $810 million.

DDOT is currently working to finish the H Street-Benning Road line, and planning to extend it east to Minnesota Avenue and west to Georgetown. Another line, which is under study, would go from the Southwest Waterfront to Takoma or Silver Spring, and DDOT is wrapping up a study on how to run a line through Anacostia and over the 11th Street bridge.

The budget also includes operating funds to start running the H Street-Benning Road segment once it is ready.

On buses, Gray has budgeted $56.6 million over 6 years to buy new buses for Circulator extensions:

  • The Rosslyn-Dupont line to U Street and Shaw
  • The Union Station-Georgetown line to the National Cathedral
  • The Union Station-Navy Yard to the Southwest Waterfront
There is $41.2 million to build a new Circulator bus garage, though officials have not decided where the garage would go. $9 million more would pay to refurbush older Circulator buses.

The budget does not, however, include any capital projects to design or build new dedicated bus lanes. This continues DDOT's pattern of indifference toward reducing delays in the city's bus lines.

There is $28 million to clear out the backlog of sidewalk rehabilitations and repairs, and money to fix up more alleys.

While his transportation department has made slow progress on the streetcar and virtually none on speeding up buses, Mayor Gray has shown a sustained commitment to fund transit projects. Will his successor do the same?

Update: It's worth pointing out that the east-west streetcar on K Street will get dedicated lanes for most of the length between Mount Vernon Square and Washington Circle, in the proposed K Street Transitway. Some buses will also be able to use that transitway. However, there are no bus-specific dedicated lane projects, and most designs for the north-south streetcar do not dedicate lanes, though a few do.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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dumb question -- what is the curent circulator garage? 41M seems like a lot.

I'm glad to hear about new buses and refurbs b/c the existing one are getting really ratty.

Why can't alley rennovation be paid for by a special one time tax on owners?

by charlie on Apr 4, 2014 11:47 am • linkreport

the circulator extension will be great for getting to the metro or barracks row after Nationals games.

by Michael Perkins on Apr 4, 2014 11:56 am • linkreport

Thanks Mayor Gray for your leadership on transit.

by h st ll on Apr 4, 2014 11:57 am • linkreport

I cannot wait for the Rosslyn to U Street line extension.

by Adam L on Apr 4, 2014 12:09 pm • linkreport

Will Bowser be better, worse, or the same in this area? Catania?

I am continually disappointed in the lack of investment on bus priority and bus lanes. H/I have languished for years along with the K Street Transitway (there are some nice mock up videos of it). I support and give credit to CSG for pushing the 16th St bus lanes.

by GP Steve on Apr 4, 2014 12:28 pm • linkreport

@Adam L: seconded.

In general more crosstown lines are always a good thing.

But on the other hand, ARE YOU SERIOUS with the (^@#%$^(&#;% lack of transit lanes?!? ARRRGHHHHH what the hell is WRONG WITH THIS PLACE

by LowHeadways on Apr 4, 2014 1:00 pm • linkreport


As you know, Circulator already serves Barrack's Row with five minute frequencies up and down 8th Street and ten minute headways to the Ballpark and Skyline.

by Steve Strauss on Apr 4, 2014 1:27 pm • linkreport

I once took the Circulator from M Street up to Union Station - the route up 8th street. At rush hour. I could have walked it faster. Made a good argument for CaBi. I guess there are times when its useful.

by MStreetDenizen on Apr 4, 2014 1:49 pm • linkreport

While investment in transit is good, it's discouraging that the biggest and most crowded bus lines like 16th St are being starved.

by Cheryl Cort on Apr 4, 2014 1:56 pm • linkreport

I like this map a lot, it hits a number of the systemic weaknesses I've noticed for years like terrible Glover Park access and U St/Shaw to Dupont connections. I wish they would figure out how to pull a line from Glover park all the way east into Ward 1, none of the Ward 3 connections run south of Cleveland Park. Something like this ideally

by BTA on Apr 4, 2014 2:31 pm • linkreport

BTW, has anyone found circulator on NEXTBUS? Is it there, should I look under any assigned number?

Also, the $810 millions is apparently for 22 miles of streetcar. Is that for an additional 22 miles not including the one under construction or does the $810 also include some costs for the current one?

by Tom S on Apr 4, 2014 2:49 pm • linkreport


The 96 route runs from Tenleytown to U Street and on to Union Station. The D1 goes from Glover Park to Dupont Circle and downtown DC. There are plenty of two seat ride options from Glover Park to all over DC.


16th Street has some of the most frequent bus service in the District. Don't think "starved" is the right description of the issue that you are concerned about.

by Steve Strauss on Apr 4, 2014 2:55 pm • linkreport

Circulator is on NextBus:!/dc-circulator/yellow/eb/k14th_e

It does not have stop numbers like WMATA bus stops and is listed as a separate agency.

$810m is the amount of revenue the tax increment will bring to the streetcar fund. It is not an estimate of how much 22 miles of streetcar will cost.

by MLD on Apr 4, 2014 2:55 pm • linkreport

I wish the Dupont extension would instead swing up 16th (or 15th and/or 17th) but regardless it will take a huge load off the the overcrowding on 16th and 14th Streets both.

Couldn't love the Circulator program more. Jury's out on the streetcars.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 4, 2014 2:56 pm • linkreport

I used to live in Glover Park so I'm very familiar with the transit there. Put simply it blows compared to Ward 1 neighborhoods.

by BTA on Apr 4, 2014 2:56 pm • linkreport

Especially considering Georgetown is a parking lot and D1 is rush only and D2 operates on 40 minute headways (which is optimistic in my experience) after 10 PM. The nearest 96 stop looks like a good mile walk at best from Glover Park as well.

by BTA on Apr 4, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

agreed. Even the area just North of U Street and below columbia heights. That area is skiped with the current circulator down 14th street (at least a 5-7 minute walk) i would add a stop between columbia road and U street theres at least 5 new massive apartment buildings there it warrents an additional stop.

by corey on Apr 4, 2014 3:09 pm • linkreport

+1 Corey

Desperately need a stop in the almost mile gap between U st and Columbia. I think Euclid or Clifton would be appropriate.

by BTA on Apr 4, 2014 3:12 pm • linkreport

No one's noticed yet but this map shows the proposed streetcar going straight down 7th instead of down 14th.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 4, 2014 3:51 pm • linkreport


If the project also includes land acquisition in the District, $41 million is probably not enough. What I'd like to see is WMATA and the District partner to create a new garage. WMATA must replace its garage at 14th street. If there's room at WMATA's Shepherd Parkway Garage, DDOT should consider working with WMATA to expand it, potentially lowering costs.

by Randall M. on Apr 4, 2014 4:39 pm • linkreport

New almost-empty express buses every ten minutes for $1 at 16th and U headed south sounds like heaven to me.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 4, 2014 6:22 pm • linkreport

@Tom - "All routes are approximate and don't include every twist and turn or multiple alternatives."

by 7r3y3r on Apr 5, 2014 12:09 am • linkreport

How about extending the hours of the

Union Station to Georgetown
Potomac Ave to Skyland

Hours to meet those of the 14th Street & Rosslyn-Dupont Circulators. Move everything out of the damn Union Station Garage.

In the case of the Navy Yard-Union Station Circulator I would scrap it and replace it with to new routes.

Noma-Chinatown-Union Station
Shaw-Union Station-Eastern Market or Barrack's Row

It would be far better to just have a Circulator go down South Capitol and North Capitol or the 3rd Street Tunnel and South Capitol Street to travel between Union Station & Navy Yard

by kk on Apr 5, 2014 2:42 am • linkreport

Why in Gd's name can't we try dedicated bus lanes on the routes before proposing $54Million/mile streetcar boondoggles/gridlocks?

Streetcars breakdown and cause insane delays and congestion. A broken down bus can be more easily averted and moved.

With the millions saved, they could simply incorporate free wifi on WMATA buses/Circulators. More automobilists would be eager to use them instead of illegally driving while texting. Even some commuter cyclists might reconsider pedaling if they could get work (or reading or free social media chatting) done on their morning commute.

Getting motorists out of their cars to use a limited route is a really tall order tantamount to a crack dream when so many are willing to pay high parking fees/tickets to get closer to their destinations.

by @ShawingtonTimes on Apr 5, 2014 10:58 am • linkreport

I think creating an even more limited service from U Street to down town with maybe 1 stop in between (around M street) and then unload everyone at K. Lets get a lot of capacity, lets get the people who are just trying to get to work in the morning a way to skip all the crap between. I think this would do wonders to alleviating 16th and 14th street back ups. People who want to ride a "local stop bus" that would stop the current number of stops can do so. Those who want quick downtown access should also have that.

by corey on Apr 5, 2014 8:17 pm • linkreport

Well local buses stop every 500-800 feet or so so I think about 1/2 mile between express buses is about right which is how most circulators routes work. Too few stops and it becomes less useful to people that don't live or work in those few areas. The gap between Columbia Heights-Irving st and U st is already too much.

by BTA on Apr 6, 2014 12:37 pm • linkreport

I think creating an even more limited service from U Street to down town with maybe 1 stop in between (around M street) and then unload everyone at K. Lets get a lot of capacity, lets get the people who are just trying to get to work in the morning a way to skip all the crap between. I think this would do wonders to alleviating 16th and 14th street back ups. People who want to ride a "local stop bus" that would stop the current number of stops can do so. Those who want quick downtown access should also have that.

The reason this doesn't exist is because there is next to no time savings in it. Increasing the average speed of the bus from 10MPH to 15MPH from U St to K would save people on the bus 2 minutes on a 6 minute trip. It's not enough to make anyone wait for that specific service. If you want more buses on that stretch they have to be local stop because people are being left at all the stops south of U. Or put in a dedicated lane which will actually make the bus service run faster, more often, and cost less to operate.

by MLD on Apr 6, 2014 1:01 pm • linkreport

i disagree that the time savings would be 2 minutes, its amazing how poorly planned the S-line is. For example. I get on the S9 bus at 16th and I (outside the white house park area). I get on we drive up sit at K street, cross K street sit at L (or whatever the next street is) and we sit at that light where there is another stop (that is not even the s9 served stop) then we get to M street (which is an s9 stop). So essentially this is not limited stop service. It is still getting jammed up downtown reguardless. Solution? I think reconfiguring some stops to be on the other side of lights would be a solid solution.

by corey on Apr 8, 2014 12:12 pm • linkreport

Agreed with BTA. Transit options for Glover Park are pretty terrible. Steve must not realize how far other cross town options (read option since the only choice is the 96) are from Glover Park's commercial strip and residential areas. The nearest 96 Bus Stop is at Wisconsin Ave NW & Woodley Rd NW, a ten minute walk from Calvert St NW & Wisconsin Ave NW. Other then that you are forced to hope for a D1 or D2 to Downtown/Dupont or deal with any of the 30 buses and Georgetown.

Extended Circulator Service through Glover Park would be nice since it terminates just south of the neighborhood at Holy Rood Cemetery but it isn't really another option just more service along existing 30 Lines.

by Glover Parker on Apr 8, 2014 5:34 pm • linkreport

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