Greater Greater Washington

The Circulator was my idea

5 years after launching the Circulator bus service, few would disagree that DDOT has created a compelling service and brand. But success creates its own problems.

Now everyone wants the Circulator in their neighborhood, and many want a stop within a short walk of their home. Catering to every such request could dilute the service and the brand. Already, the different routes serve different purposes, with the Mall loop filling a very different niche than the route through Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights.

While catering to loud or connected residents sometimes passes as inclusion in local government, DDOT has instead launched a more comprehensive planning process. They want to crowdsource the mission and goals of the Circulator. They want the Circulator to be your idea.

What do you think the future mission of the Circulator should be? You can let DDOT know at their online Circulator survey, or simply through comments to this post. All features of the service are up for grabs, so don't hold back. And feel free to think creatively. Here's what a Circulator Advisory Panel of ANC reps had to say. And here are a couple possible Circulator goals and objectives, many of them overlapping, to prime the pump. Let the brainstorming begin!

Connecting activity centers in DC: While Metrorail and Metrobus do a good job getting riders into and out of the city, we don't have direct, efficient transit between many activity centers in DC.


Connecting activity centers.
This was the original goal of the Circulator. However, most Circulator routes go through downtown, so there's lots of potential to directly connect more activity centers.

What this would mean: This goal could mean more routes connecting Activity Centers, including local routes (like the Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn route starting Sept 1) and cross-town routes (connecting major NW activity centers with NE/SE activity centers such as Catholic University, H Street, Minnesota Avenue, and DHS/St Elizabeths). Local routes could use smaller buses. As more activity centers develop throughout the city, Circulator routes can be added to support and manage density growth in those areas.

Getting tourists off the Mall: Tourists want to see monuments that are far away from each other, and they want to see more of our city than the Mall, but are faced with a subway that provides underground views or a MetroBus service that can be confusing for the uninitiated. Like the goal of connecting activity centers, connecting tourist centers to each other and to other parts of the city is of particular interest to DC residents interested in economic development and reduced congestion and smog. Furthermore, the only solution to the land grab on the Mall is to connect the Mall to other activity centers that could host future monuments and museums.

What this would mean: This goal could mean more promotion of Circulator service in hotels, subway stops and tourist locations, as well as a possible takeover of the tourist bus contract with the National Park Service.

Make buses an attractive option to boost bus ridership: The Circulator has attracted many riders who would otherwise have never taken the bus. This is good for everyone. DDOT has accomplished this with the convenience of 10 minute headways, routes that are easy to remember because they connect activity centers (and are named as such), comfortable buses, allowing unfolded strollers, pleasant drivers and good marketing.

What this would mean: This goal could mean extended hours of operation, improved marketing for older residents and to families with young children, investment in comfortable bus stops with bus bulb-outs and bus rapid transit initiatives (see below).

Leverage DDOT's management of the streetscape to deliver faster buses: It's difficult for Metrobus to deliver faster service, because they are not in control of the intersection signaling, dedicated lane creation and enforcement, bus bulb-outs and other streetscape features that expedite bus traffic. DDOT can more easily push for this in its routes because all the streetscape decisions and bus decisions are made under the same roof, though they could also work more closely with WMATA to speed existing Metrobus routes.

Currently, only one of the Circulator routes, the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights/McPherson Square route, is a limited stop route, with stops at activity centers only. This goal would also lower Circulator costs to maintain 10-minute headways significantly.

What this would mean: This goal could mean dedicated bus lanes with enforcement along Circulator routes, intersection signal prioritization along Circulator routes and limited stops along all Circulator routes.

These obviously aren't mutually exclusive, and this list is just the beginning. So, what are your ideas for the Circulator?

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son. Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. 

Comments

Add a comment »

More of the limited stop service between activity centers would be a great idea, and a way to provide speedy n/s and e/w crosstown service to make more bus travel a realistic possibility for folks. And also, as you point out, would help keep the costs for a new corridor of service as low as possible.

by steve on Aug 24, 2010 12:41 pm • linkreport

Will the DC Circulator be discontinued if/when the streetcar program is fully functional throughout the city?

by Andy Peters on Aug 24, 2010 12:51 pm • linkreport

it's not just about the "circulator" it's about the hierarchy of transit subnetworks within the city. The city should develop a framework plan and address the issue systematically. In my framework, I call neighborhood circulators "tertiary." I am fine with them, but the usage doesn't justify 10 minute headways.

Instead, in a number of neighborhoods, they need to function more like taxi collectifs a la Montreal and other places (i.e., the SW Waterfront and their desire to maintain shuttle service).

But without a hierarchy, you neither explain to people what you are trying to achieve, and you lack a solid set of criteria from which to make decisions and choices.

e.g., in the current circulator set up, the capitol hill one isn't probably justifiable, most of the other ones are, except that the Adams Morgan-Woodley-McPhereson route should probably terminate at U Street or Rhode Island Ave.

WRT transit networks and subnetworks, I recommend my presentation on the subject, which looks at transpo planning in the context of metropolitan transit networks. + my mobility shed and transit shed concepts.

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2010/07/metropolitan-mass-transit-planning.html

http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2008/09/updating-mobilityshed-mobility-shed.html

by Richard Layman on Aug 24, 2010 12:59 pm • linkreport

re: Circulator and Streetcar

That's an excellent question, Andy. The short answer, I think, is that streetcar network buildout lasts until 2030 and even then doesn't connect several activity centers, so there will be a place for Circulator for the foreseeable future.

The larger issue, though, is the respective roles of circulator buses and streetcars. I think streetcars act as economic development engines, while circulcator buses help manage the density that comes with development by directly connecting a new activity center to many more activity centers than more capital-intensive streetcars can.

by Ken Archer on Aug 24, 2010 1:03 pm • linkreport

I think Ken and Richard are both right.

A comprehensive Circulator system, in the short term, can seed demand for streetcars and a BRT network. Even after a fully implemented streetcar system, there will still be a strong need for local (WMATA) and express bus networks to complement the fixed rail solutions.

by Andrew on Aug 24, 2010 1:14 pm • linkreport

Terminating the Adams Morgan Circulator at U Street is not a good idea. One of its primary utilities is that it's currently the fastest way to get from downtown to U Street. I will get off the Metro in order to take that bus.

Yes, it is redundant to the Metrobus 14th Street line, but it's better than Metrobus. If we don't want Circulator to provide redundant service, the first step will have to be getting Metrobus to offer equally good service. They don't, not anywhere in the entire Metrobus system.

by BeyondDC on Aug 24, 2010 1:15 pm • linkreport

A couple of suggestions:

- At the west end of the Georgetown/K Street line, terminate service at Calvert St instead of the Safeway. That would add service to Glover Park, a fairly substantial activity center that is currently underserved by transit, at the cost of extending the line by less than 1 mile.

- For the Woodley Park-McPherson Sq line end service to McPherson Square, reroute the line through Chinatown, and terminate it at H St NE. Then you would have a shuttle through all of DC's most vibrant restaurant and nightlife districts.

by Phil on Aug 24, 2010 1:15 pm • linkreport

My 2 cents:

K street line has too many stops. Also if the 900 block of K was opened to 2 way traffic the slow jog it takes on 10th street could be eliminated.

The end of the Adams Morgan line at Franklin Square makes no sense. It doesn't line up with the K street line that has a stop a half a block away at 13th and doesn't connect directly to the Metro (you have to cross 2 streets). Run it down 14th to Eye and then to 15th and then to K. This would also let you have a Thomas Circle stop or a K street stop.

Oh and what happened to prepaying before you board? Wasn't that an original feature to make boarding faster? The bus itself didn't take cash at first, right? You had to buy from a parking meter looking thing and show a receipt or use SmartTrip. That was a good idea.

by Alex on Aug 24, 2010 1:23 pm • linkreport

Phil, how do you get a bus from 14th and U to 7th and H in a timely manner

by Alex on Aug 24, 2010 1:26 pm • linkreport

WMATA has been collaborating with DDOT to plan bus priority corridors like the 70s (Georgia) 30s, 16th Street, X2/H St/Benning. While DDOT says it supports dedicated bus lanes, queue jumps, signal priority -- these measures have only very slowly been implemented. WMATA has done much of what it can to speed bus service - now it's up to DDOT to be more interested in the bus service that most DC transit riders use. Improved bus service is more than cutting stops, even though DDOT's "Agenda" document suggests this. Circulators can play a role, but DDOT should first make major Metrobus routes work by quickly implementing bus priority corridors. How about implementing a bus-only street for downtown H Street during rush hour? That's in the plan. Bus lanes on 16th St? See all of WMATA's efforts to get cooperation for DDOT and speed bus service: http://www.metrobus-studies.com/.

by ccort on Aug 24, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

I wonder if there is some way that DDOT can determine how many true tourists are using a particular bus, versus how many local residents are using it. Case in point would be the line to the SW Waterfront.

I use it, I know other and use it, including some that make it part of their daily commutes. However, I can't see any real reason for a tourist to use it. There are simply no tourist attractions at the SW Waterfront (except for Phillips, which does a huge business from tour bus groups who don't need the Circulator).

If it is determined that a line is primarily being used by residents, and not tourists, then wouldn't just make sense to fold that line into the existing Metrobus system, either as a new route or an enhancement of an existing route?

by urbaner@hotmail.com on Aug 24, 2010 1:43 pm • linkreport

@Alex: Every time I have taken the Adams Morgan line going south, there's been a unofficial stop at 13th & K before it goes around Franklin Square for those who want to catch the Georgetown-Union Station line. A transfer isn't as hard as it seems.

As for ideas:
1: Night and weekend service outside of Nats games on the Union Station-Navy Yard line. For the year the old N22 Metrobus had that level of service, there was at least some ridership and there's a hole in service from Eastern Market to Union Station that can be filled by not backtracking via Metro.

2: Look into extending the Adams Morgan route up to Cleveland Park or at least somewhere near the Zoo. Though this might be logistically painful to find a turnaround spot, it'd be of great help to not just tourists but people wanting to get to the Zoo quickly.

by Jason on Aug 24, 2010 1:45 pm • linkreport

@Alex: The 90,92, 93, and X3 metrobuses run from 14th & U to 8th & H by pretty much the most direct route available. It doesn't hit Chinatown, and is still a bit west of the active nightlife spots on H, but seems to serve the niche just fine.

*(That said. The 90s suffer from some pretty severe bunching. More frequent/reliable service along the route would be greatly appreciated. There are also plenty of completely irrational metrobus routes that should probably be rethought, reduced, or eliminated, especially when they parallel rail lines for most of their route -- the aforementioned X3 is particularly baffling -- it only runs a few times inside a 2-hour window each day.)

by andrew on Aug 24, 2010 1:47 pm • linkreport

@Alex, if it's limited-stop, it should be possible to devise a route that bypasses the worst traffic. It's not necessary to travel through the center of Chinatown, you could drop people off a block or two away from 7th and H.

by Phil on Aug 24, 2010 1:52 pm • linkreport

My reoccurring suggestion for the Circulator lines, has always been to connect the Woodley Park and Georgetown Circulator end points at the National Cathedral so as to create a NW Loop. Not every bus would be a loop bus, but maybe 1 in 4. Regardless, one could switch at the Cathedral to the other line, which would generally have one waiting. It'd be all of one extra stop and a new endpoint for each line.

by Patrick on Aug 24, 2010 1:55 pm • linkreport

@Ken Archer and @Andrew :
I am grappling with the issue of streetcars versus buses. I realize that this argument does not apply to the DC Circulator, but I read in somebody's blog (sorry can't remember the name -- he's a self-described public transit consultant) an argument that streetcars are no better than buses, if the dedicated right-of-way that's built for a streetcar is also built for a bus. In other words, streetcars are no faster or more efficient than buses, if buses are given the same infrastructure improvements as streetcars. Furthermore, the economic-development engine benefit of streetcars applies equally to buses, if the same infrastructure improvements are made for buses.

I know this doesn't apply to the DC Circulator. But generally speaking this argument disturbed me because I'm a huge believer in streetcars, but I can't think of great argument to counter this line of thought, nor did I read any. I was hoping someone could provide one.

by Andy Peters on Aug 24, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

@ Alex

To get to 7th & H it could run its regular route to 14th & M then either

Option 1
continue regular route to K street and take the D4 metrobuses routing to 9th & New York; then turn down 9th street left onto H street stop at Gallery Place

Option 2
Turn off on 14th Street around N or Mst and go east to 7th street turning on 7th and continue to Gallery Place.

From there they could turn around go back to 14th Street or go to NE

The biggest problem I see is them going to the Union Station garage there is no point to that and all it does it waste time when they could just stop somewhere one North Capitol, 1st Street, Mass Ave, or E/F/G/H streets instead.

by kk on Aug 24, 2010 2:06 pm • linkreport

Extend the soon-to-be-a-Circulator Roslyn-Georgetown-Dupont line a mile to U Street (and, say, 9th). This would link nearly all the pedestrian activity centers of NW (Georgetown's M-Street, Dupont Circle, Adams-Morgan and U-street) and fill a hole in the MetroBus network (There is currently NO bus service from U-street to the Dupont circle area and the Green-line/Red-line transfer is roundabout, crowded, and as slow as walking.)

by egk on Aug 24, 2010 2:10 pm • linkreport

I absolutely *love* the Circulator, and that's because I live on the Logan Circle/U St/Adams Morgan line (as I call it). The best features are: 1. Location 2. Speed 3. Frequency 4. Limited stops 5. Cost 6. Brand/cleanliness.

That said, the biggest threats currently to the service as it approaches year 5, are cleanliness, and speed. some of the buses are starting to show (and smell) wear, especially those on K street duty. DDOT needs to get on top of replacing worn fabric.

To address speed, the Circulator should run a limited-stop model on all routes. Also the buses should detour around traffic crushed areas; for example why not run on H, I, and/or L street instead of the gridlocked K street. Maintaining the low 10-minute headways is essential to attracting users to public transit.

by Fabian on Aug 24, 2010 2:12 pm • linkreport

Ideas

Extend

Navy Yard line to Chinatown from Union Station give people a reason to ride it. Add a 2 more stops between Union Station and M Street SE.

Northbound it could travel same route to Mass Ave then turn left instead of right stopping where the Metrobuses do at 1st & Mass NE then go straight along Mass to 7th Street then K Street to 9th make left making another left at H and stop at 7th & H. Southbound follow 80 metrobus to Union Station continue regular route.

Reroute Adams Morgan line to Zoo/Cleveland Park/Van Ness/Mt Pleasant

Option 1

Start at 18th & Columbia; then travel regular route to Connecticut Ave then go up to Porter take Porter to Klingle then Park RD to Mt Pleasant then resume regular route at Irving.

Option 2

Start at Van Ness (no where to turn around at near Cleveland Park but there is a area to turn around at Van Ness) go down Connecticut Ave pass Zoo resume regular route.

Fix the Adams Morgan & Georgetown Lines stops at 13th & K Streets what is present now is beyond stupid.

by kk on Aug 24, 2010 2:22 pm • linkreport

@ccort (my guru)

My hope is that DDOT's investment in the Circulator, and their desire to see it succeed, will give us bus priority corridors that MetroBus will use, and that they will be more or less the same corridors as should have been built even without the Circulator since the data from Circulator and MetroBus routes (e.g. MPH) should be similar.

by Ken Archer on Aug 24, 2010 2:44 pm • linkreport

@ andrew

The X3 has always been like that I think have discontinued and brought it back around 2 times. It use to operate more frequently than it does now.

About twenty years ago there was the X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, X8, X9 40, 44 & U4 (had completely different route) then they all got bastardized into the X1, X2, X3, X8 (only one that stayed mostly the same), U4, U5, U6, U8, 96 & 97. If you look at some of the older bus stops they still might say X6 & X9 along East Capitol. Most of them had there starting and endpoints switched and were given new route names.

by kk on Aug 24, 2010 2:54 pm • linkreport

I would create Circulator routes for any routes to be replaced by streetcars in the future. But that's just me.

At the very least, I think at least one of the routes that currently terminate in the Union Station garage should continue through it along H Street to the Atlas District.

by J.D. Hammond on Aug 24, 2010 2:57 pm • linkreport

BeyondDC, just because it's great for you to travel up 14th Street on the circulator from McPherson Sq. doesn't mean it's great for the route and system. I DK. I am just opining. From a revenue standpoint and ability to maximize equipment resources both of the bus and the subway, it makes sense to "force" people like yourself to take the Metro for that leg. (Sorry to be pedantic here, it's not like you don't know the issues.) I frequently see empty buses in this stretch we are talking about, but I don't view the buses enough to be comfortable with making "global" assessments.

by Richard Layman on Aug 24, 2010 3:09 pm • linkreport

@ Andy Peters - There are major differences between streetcars and buses that make streetcars better in many instances. The GAO produced a 2001 study that indicated that under the right conditions, bus rapid transit could approach the success of light rail, but it had a lot of caveats.

1. Streetcars have greater capacity per vehicle. This reduces the number of drivers and vehicles you need to provide the same capacity.

2. Streetcars are typically powered by electricity, while buses are typically powered by internal combustion engines (diesel or CNG). This means cleaner air in the vicinity of the vehicles, and depending on the fuel used for electricity, possibly lower pollution overall. (In this area we rely heavily on coal power, so the environmental benefits are not as great as areas that rely on more renewable sources.)

3. Depending on how the fares are collected, streetcars have a greater ability to speed boarding/disembarking through multiple doors. This helps maintain headways and reduce bunching. Buses generally require that you use one door when you pay the fare.

4. The inflexibility of rail and perception of higher quality service induces greater private investment along the route. A streetcar cannot be re-routed, and the service is not easily discontinued.

5. Although dedicated lanes can help speed buses along, there tend to be more violations of bus lane restrictions than there are of rails. People are far less likely to stop or park on train tracks than they are in bus lanes.

Having said all that, there are places where dedicated bus facilities provide better service that streetcars or light rail could. See Pittsburgh's East Busway as an example of where bus service greatly exceeds what rail could do in the same location.

by Stanton Park on Aug 24, 2010 3:11 pm • linkreport

Some great ideas here, but Ken's original question is really worthwhile. He didn't ask where you want to see the Circulator go. He asked, what's the purpose? In the mix of DC's public transit services, what does the Circulator do? Before they start expanding the system they should be able to explain that.

I like the idea of connecting activity centers, getting visitors and workers out into the neighborhood commercial districts, connecting destinations rather than trying to serve a whole corridor. Although, I'm not really sure if that is different than what the streetcar is supposed to do. Any other thoughts on the Circulator niche?

by Betrokken Berger on Aug 24, 2010 3:11 pm • linkreport

@Richard

I've seen plenty of packed buses heading up and down 14th, too. I don't see what cutting the route off at U Street achieves.

I'm also not sure what you're trying to achieve by 'forcing' someone from the bus to metro. You've just added a transfer to their trip for no good reason. Instead of extracting an extra fare, you've probably just lost a rider, period.

by Alex B. on Aug 24, 2010 3:22 pm • linkreport

Extend the Georgetown/Union station route north on Wisconsin Avenue to at least Calvert Street

by rosie on Aug 24, 2010 3:45 pm • linkreport

I'm with Alex on this - the Circulator was simply the easiest way for me to get from Columbia Heights, or just about anywhere in the city, to Logan Circle/14th & P. If that stop were eliminated, I wouldn't have gone there nearly as often.

by J.D. Hammond on Aug 24, 2010 3:49 pm • linkreport

I love the Circulator buses. As a black person I have a hard time getting a cab to stop for me at night. I can always rely on the Circulator pick me up.

by Dark Rider on Aug 24, 2010 5:26 pm • linkreport

I haven't read any of the above comments, haven't given any heed of existing ridership data nor routes, have not yet had a chance to nitpick on one-way roads & bus-capable geometry, and have zero knowledge of half the neighborhoods these delve into... but it was just last weekend when I thought to lay out my first draft fantasy high-frequency transit routes within DC. The Google Earth file is available here for the pickings. Some are probably excessively long to feasibly run unscheduled service such as Circulator, but that's not to say it's impossible.

by Bossi on Aug 24, 2010 5:48 pm • linkreport

@Ken, your link to the orginal purpose of the Circulator buses doesn't work. I was curious to see what it said because I distinctly remember the Circulator bus being sold to the Council (and the city) as a means to transport tourists between touristy areas such as Georgetown and the Mall ... and the Capitol. Actually, believe that was the first route. And that was what justified us taxpayers picking up almost all the costs for the Circulator ... leaving the user to pay only a measly dollar for this convenience. Oddly enough, I don't see any mention of this original purpose in your post ... ? Is it you've forgotten what the real 'original purpose' of this Circulator Bus was for? ... Or was it a sham from the start ... I.e., It was easier to get approval from Council and the taxpayers by saying it would 'help the tourists spend more money in DC itself by bring them to Georgetown vs. letting them go back to their hotels in Va. where they were then currently spending their tourist dollars' ...

by Lance on Aug 24, 2010 10:52 pm • linkreport

To expedite transit buses and streetcars should not have to compete with traffic. Open closed off streets like those through the old convention center grounds to circ bus traffic. The circ bus would be on downtown in five minutes if it could go straight through I ST. It would not have to make that ugly turn around the Carnegie Library at New York Ave. What are they thinking. Its a no brainer. Run buses down streets that cars don't use.

by UR Kidding on Aug 25, 2010 9:01 am • linkreport

There is no magic to the DC Circulator. DDOT simply took some available capital from the DC Metrobus system and diverted it to a new brand. Since then they have been searching for a market. Over many years the city has been either unwilling or unable to take a realistic look at providing at the service it provides. Much like it's parking meters "lets have a pilot program" DDOT can't make a decision or really focus on the real issues. The city has a massive bus system that it needs to make work effectively and efficiently. The city needs to focus on Metrobus not it's boutique service.

by Interested on Aug 25, 2010 9:24 am • linkreport

How about one of the things that makes the Circulator particularly attractive to me, particularly the McPherson-Woodley line: infrequent stops. Trips of any distance on standard MetroBus lines can be infuriatingly long and nauseatingly jerky, as the bus makes stops on pretty much every block. For example, I *never* take the G2 to/from Georgetown because of the length of time it takes to get there. I can practically walk as fast. The Circulator, at least the McPherson-Woodley line, operates more like a streetcar than a bus and addresses that problem.

by 14thandyou on Aug 25, 2010 10:14 am • linkreport

Also, with regards to the comment above re: moving the termination of the Woodley line to H St. NE--that is, pardon my bluntness, a terrible idea. The McPherson-Woodley line functions about as well as a bus line through a densely populated corridor could function, and there is no need to mess with it. It shuttles people, quickly and efficiently, from a prime downtown location north to some of the city's most popular and dense neighborhoods. That stop at 14th and P Street in particular is critical, as it serves as a primary transit stop for the Logan Circle neighborhood.

For anyone who feels that it is redundant to the 50 line buses, I challenge you to ride from 14th and I up to Columbia Heights. When two-three Circulators pass your 50 bus on the way up, you'll likely feel differently.

by 14thandyou on Aug 25, 2010 10:21 am • linkreport

@ Jason - "Every time I have taken the Adams Morgan line going south, there's been a unofficial stop at 13th & K before it goes around Franklin Square for those who want to catch the Georgetown-Union Station line. A transfer isn't as hard as it seems." That's an official stop - in fact, the bus might technically be out of service after it makes that stop, turns right on 13th, and turns right on I.

by Matt on Aug 25, 2010 10:34 am • linkreport

Isn't the Ciculator cheaper to operate then Metrobus? In that case, the Circulator should cannibalize the Metrobus system. More and more Metrobus lines should be replaced by slightly optimized Ciruclator lines.

This would be an efficient way to get rid of the ridiculous union contract that's strangling WMATA's budget, as well as unmotivated texting union drivers. The Circulators should be used to show how great bus transportation can be, and WMATA should do everything it can to show what blocks them from running their bus system as the Circulators.

Furthermore, the buses (actually the region) needs dedicated bus lanes. In Georgetown the buses go less than walking speed, if there's any traffic at all. I assume this is the case in other places as well. If this means that certain streets become bus(/taxi only), then so be it.

Finally, they need to start using the GGW-Metro-Circulator map.

by Jasper on Aug 25, 2010 11:28 am • linkreport

working air conditioning on the buses would be nice

by MAL on Aug 25, 2010 12:48 pm • linkreport

@ jasper You might want to know that at least some of the Circulator buses are owned by WMATA. Furthermore WMATA manages the DDOT contractor and provides significant tech support to both the contractor and DDOT. WMATA and the other supporting jurisdictions would be more than happy to unload Metrobus onto DC.

by Interested on Aug 25, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

@Stanton Park:

Your points on bus vs light rail are okay - some are right and some are totally wrong.

1. Streetcars have greater capacity per vehicle. This reduces the number of drivers and vehicles you need to provide the same capacity.

Yes, this is true. Although if you have two buses carrying half the amount as a streetcar, you can also cut the headways in half.

2. Streetcars are typically powered by electricity, while buses are typically powered by internal combustion engines (diesel or CNG). This means cleaner air in the vicinity of the vehicles, and depending on the fuel used for electricity, possibly lower pollution overall. (In this area we rely heavily on coal power, so the environmental benefits are not as great as areas that rely on more renewable sources.)

This is true, but there's plenty of hybrid buses and buses based on other fuel sources coming out the pipeline (fuel cells, for example). Not to mention trolleybuses.

3. Depending on how the fares are collected, streetcars have a greater ability to speed boarding/disembarking through multiple doors. This helps maintain headways and reduce bunching. Buses generally require that you use one door when you pay the fare.

Ok, but that's an issue of fare collection, not the vehicle. All door boarding on buses (and POP) can solve this problem. The Select Bus Service in the Bronx, for example, uses all door boarding. As do many Proof of Payment BRT systems.

4. The inflexibility of rail and perception of higher quality service induces greater private investment along the route. A streetcar cannot be re-routed, and the service is not easily discontinued.

Completely agree here.

5. Although dedicated lanes can help speed buses along, there tend to be more violations of bus lane restrictions than there are of rails. People are far less likely to stop or park on train tracks than they are in bus lanes.

Yes, agreed. Although that's because they know they'll block a streetcar from moving period. Seperated and dedicated bus lanes can do the same thing.

Having said all that, there are places where dedicated bus facilities provide better service that streetcars or light rail could. See Pittsburgh's East Busway as an example of where bus service greatly exceeds what rail could do in the same location.

Yes. The Ottawa and Brisbane transitways are a great example of this as well.

by AA on Aug 25, 2010 7:23 pm • linkreport

I really think the circulator needs some regular sized 40 feet buses with normal seating. The K street and 14th Street/Adams Morgan routes get crowded very badly during the rush hour and weekend nights.

by -.- on Aug 25, 2010 9:46 pm • linkreport

I like the limited-stop concept very much. I recently took the Circulator from U Street to Adams Morgan and was amazed at how it moved. The Georgetown-Union Station route could use some re-thinking.

I wonder if the Circulator, along with other key high-frequency bus routes, could be added to the Metro map. They would need to share operating hours with Metro rather than stopping at 9pm. This would surely build ridership.

by Matthias on Sep 1, 2010 10:34 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or