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Communication problems accompany Circulator changes

Yesterday, the "Blue Bus" between Rosslyn, Georgetown, and Dupont became the District's newest Circulator line. DDOT also decided to make some routing changes to existing lines at the same time. Unfortunately, there has been little communication of these changes.


New Circulator stop flag at L & 24th Streets.

With the new service running along M Street in Georgetown, DDOT decided to reroute the westbound Georgetown-Union Station buses along lower K Street to Wisconsin Avenue, which is actually the alignment from the original Circulator proposal.

Eastbound buses keep the same route along M Street and Pennsylvania. Westbound service is discontinued at 3 stops, while another two would no longer have service heading north on Wisconsin, only west to Rosslyn. This is no "small system change," as DDOT refers to it (scroll to the bottom below the route map).

DDOT has been negotiating this takeover for nearly a year. Yet when it came to implementation on Sunday, the department seemed anything but ready. As of Saturday, there was no communication at the stops or in the buses about the new service changes. Some places in Georgetown had signs noting the switch of the Blue Bus to a Circulator Route, but lacked any notice about changes in the other route.

Furthermore, DDOT had plenty of time to solicit input on the new route and changes to Georgetown-Union Station route that would result. But they didn't. What happened and why has there been such a lack of communication from a government agency that has generally done a stellar job reaching out to the public?

Last week there was a brief outreach campaign centered around various websites and blogs notifying riders that the Blue Bus would become a Circulator. Some of these articles included the Georgetown-Union Station route changes as a footnote, while others failed to mention it altogether. The DDOT press release falls into the former category.

Today when DDOT tweeted a reminder about the new route but failed to put a "." in front of @DCCirculator, meaning only followers of DDOTDC who also follow DCCirculator will have seen the tweet. In fairness to DDOT, Twitter doesn't make this behavior very discoverable and many people aren't aware of it.


Screenshot of DCCirculator.com last night.
Meanwhile, there is no indication of the route changes on the actual Circulator website. DDOT added the new Rosslyn-Georgetown-Dupont route to DCCirculator.com under the individual route list, but as of this writing, the system map had neither any of the Georgetown-Union Station route changes nor the new route marked on it. The last post under "Latest News" is for a June 28th service change. The Circulator mobile site has neither the new route nor the new changes on the other routes.

DDOT posted new Circulator stop flags along M and L streets for the Dupont Circle-Georgetown segment of the new route, yet didn't remove the stop flags from the three stops on Pennsylvania where there would no longer be any Circulator service. As of Monday evening, this was the only notice at Penn and 24th that the Circulator no longer stopped there:


Photo by author

Can't see it? It's the small piece of paper taped to the front of the schedule holder. From the sidewalk, it practically unnoticeable despite its bright pink color. To read it you actually have to step into the street. Even if you do read it, it doesn't offer any advice about a rider's alternatives.

Now that you've told me my bus stop is no longer served, the next thing you should tell me is my next best option. Tell riders that they can take a 32, 34 or 36but make sure to notify them it will cost $0.50 moreor tell them they can walk to 22nd and Pennsylvania to catch the Wisconsin-bound route.

At an agency that has so meticulously groomed its branding and communication styles, where are the official fliers, the planned outreach? For all we know even, these pink papers were printed by a fellow rider who was frustrated by the lack of communication. What happened?

Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

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If I recall correctly, DDOT tried to make the K Street change sometime in the last year, along with cutting off a significant portion of the Wisconsin Avenue section. There was a fair bit of outrage, so they canceled it.

To be fair, the outrage was more about cutting the Wisconsin Avenue portion than rerouting the M Street part to K Street. But nonetheless, I can't help but think that DDOT slipped this in with the Rosslyn-Dupont Circle route, without much notification, in an attempt to bypass the outrage.

by Tim on Aug 31, 2010 2:43 pm • linkreport

What a joke. I use that stop at 24th and Penn almost everyday to head up to Glover Park, and yesterday I and several people there were scratching our heads about where the Circulator was going. Terrible grades for DDOT on handling this.

That stop gets a lot of rail to bus transfer traffic from people who do not want to deal with the lines at Farragut for buses and do not mind the short walk from Foggy Bottom. I think it is kind of foolish to not run the Circulator there.

by Lou on Aug 31, 2010 2:47 pm • linkreport

Yesterday morning I rode the Circulator from Rosslyn to Dupont, and even the light-up destination sign on the bus was not yet working. Instead someone had taped a handwritten "Dupont/Rosslyn" note to the window. I was originally very excited for this Circulator extension, but they've really dropped the ball on preparing both themselves and their customers for the change. I wonder what happened?

by Matt on Aug 31, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

You would be surprised only if your believed the press releases that "D." was efficient. IN reality, they are just as dysfunction as everyone else.

Losing the M St/Penn Ave sections is huge loss. Sorry to whine, but dropping you off at K St isn't the same thing -- there is a hill to climb along the way. And most of the businesses in Georgetown are on M st.

Other problems:

1) What buses are they going to use? Are there extra ones lying around to replace the 5 or 6 dedicated Blue Buses? Or is service going to suffer.

2) The new buses aren't as maneuverable as the smaller BB and will get stuck in traffic more.

3) Why eliminate the Key Bridge Marriott stop?

4) the entire DCCIRCULATOR web site was down for most of yesterday morning.

5) Moving BB to a Circulator is bad enough. But slipping in a lot of changes along the way: Dirty.

Guess what. Gray just picked up some more voters.

by charlie on Aug 31, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

For what it's worth, here's a .kmz of the new Circulator routes (link) . Just let me know if I've made any mistakes.

by Bossi on Aug 31, 2010 3:43 pm • linkreport

I'm very happy with switching the Blue Bus to Circulator. But they fumbled in moving the Georgetown Circulator to K Street, at least in the communication. Riders were waiting at M Street stops for the Georgetown bus -- the Rosslyn bus kept stopping to redirect them. No signs posted. What happened?

by Gavin on Aug 31, 2010 3:44 pm • linkreport

Erik,

We agree there simply was not enough advance communication of the changes - on a number of fronts but particularly at the stops - and weÂ’re looking into what happened. We apologize to the Circulator riders who have been so loyal.

Thanks for alerting us to the problem and we will try to move as quickly as possible to ensure everyone is aware of the changes.

John Lisle
DDOT Communications Office

by John Lisle on Aug 31, 2010 3:53 pm • linkreport

I love watching PR guys at work:

"Apologize to Circulator riders". I'd be more concerned about blue bus riders, who now in transition, and might decide to do something else.

"advance communication of the changes". Part of the problem is the advance communications. But most of it is the changes themselves.

Let me pose another problem. I've noticed a large number of tourists on the Blue Bus. It is in guidebooks and online. Exactly how are you going to tell them that the Blue Bus is now a Circulator? It will take 2-3 years for that information to filter out, and drivers are going to have to explain that. Ask your drivers how many time they get confused with the GUTS bus?

"move as quickly as possible to ensure everyone is aware of the changes." Again, we won't listen to you. We just want you to listen to us.

by charlie on Aug 31, 2010 4:14 pm • linkreport

The original K street line makes so much more sense, I'm very glad to hear about that-- now if only we can consolidate some stops between Rock Creek and 16th street.

Is there a map anywhere?

by Alex on Aug 31, 2010 4:18 pm • linkreport

The Rosslyn stop has moved a block back (good) and now is sharing the spot with the Georgetown GUTS buses (pretty busy now). There is a small (paper) note at the old stop telling people to move on. There are also some folks standing there. Supposedly to help people find their bus, but in reality just chatting with each other.

I also noted (as others have) that apparently, they haven't figured out how to put the direction on the buses. They now say "Have a nice day" or nothing.

Very amateurish.

by Jasper on Aug 31, 2010 4:42 pm • linkreport

Kudos to DDOT on routing, if not communication.

The elimination of the stop at the Key Bridge Marriott is good public policy. The hotel can easily run its own shuttle service to the Rosslyn Metro, which has not only the new Circulator stop but also direct rail service to National Airport. The blue bus stop was only on one direction of the route, maybe beneficial for some tourists but definitely an inconvenience to locals. (On a more practical note, I'm not sure how well Circulator buses would have navigated the hotel driveway.)

The removal of the stop at 24th & Penn is a huge loss, but people who used to ride to Foggy Bottom to go to Georgetown can now just as easily get off at Rosslyn, with a shorter walk and ride. Access to Glover Park might be a little trickier with a transfer at M & Wisconsin, but I can understand why DDOT would not have wanted to add to the already overcrowded section of M Street near Penn with two routes serving the same corridor. It should mean a faster trip for people overall.

by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2010 4:43 pm • linkreport

The 30-series buses still handle the trip from 24th & Penn to Wisconsin pretty well, by the way. They tend to run with as much frequency as the Circulator if not more. There were many times I ended up taking a 30 bus there because it came sooner. But I'll be taking the bus from Rosslyn from now on because the Key Bridge is usually less jammed than M Street.

by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2010 4:48 pm • linkreport

@charlie-

Perhaps my experience w/ the Blue Bus just isn't up to date, but how would its unscheduled headways differ from Circulator's unscheduled headways; both following similar routes?

by Bossi on Aug 31, 2010 4:57 pm • linkreport

Er... didn't quite finish my thought:

To me, it seems like they're more or less the same headways, same routes, using the same infrastructure... except now they use a standard & readily identifiable livery.

I'm not the most familiar with the area or if there are any other significant changes, but on the surface that sounds like a net win to me.

by Bossi on Aug 31, 2010 4:58 pm • linkreport

No offense, but I hardly think this warrants an entire article. Buses change routes all the time. A person discovers it once, maybe makes a mistake, then all is well in the world. The smart ones barely think anything of it. The tourists don't know the difference. The Circulator is anything but a hugely busy commuter line, and at most the new routes put people 1 or 2 blocks away from where they'd be before.

by Eric on Aug 31, 2010 5:01 pm • linkreport

People don't like to make mistakes, Eric. It's easier to blame someone else. But on a more serious note, I do think it is a valid point that service change signs could have gone up sooner. I remember seeing a sign for a simple stop relocation once. This is a pretty major routing change in comparison.

by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2010 5:07 pm • linkreport

Buses change routes all the time? Maybe. But without any notice, hardly ever. How come I regularly see advertisements for public comment on Metro buses when route service changes are being considered?

by Lou on Aug 31, 2010 5:08 pm • linkreport

@Bossi: I'm guessing charlie liked the leather seats on the old buses. They were van-based, so they also had a slightly smoother ride. Integration with the main Circulator system though is definitely a big win. I'll enjoy being able to use my SmarTrip card, and the windows are bigger and brighter.

by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2010 5:12 pm • linkreport

@ Eric

That doesnt matter; all things should be done professional and that was not the case with DDot or even WMATA when they communicate things to the public.

Then the website did not have updated maps except for one for the Dupont-Rosslyn Circulator to show where the routing would be but all routes changed somewhat.

If you are going to have a website it should be updated regular or otherwise there is no point to having it since the info is wrong. The objective should be to have all important stuff on the home page of the site so that a user does not overlook the info or has to dig around page after page to find something out unless there getting paid for the amount of pages a user visits and I would hope not.

Everything should have been done on the Saturday before so that people could plan ahead.

There is no excuse for not telling anyone

by kk on Aug 31, 2010 5:23 pm • linkreport

@Bossi; Blue Bus had a much better service record, especially along M St, than the Circulator. There have been times when 4-5 BB have pulled up while waiting for one circulator to show. I suspect there are three reasons for that: the route is shorter and doesn't have to deal with K st downtown, the BB is smaller and more maneuverable than a a full line circulator, and there are just more of them.

As I said before, where are these circulator buses coming from? How many will be used on the Rosslyn line?

@Eric; sure buses change stops. And usually your bus company tells you before about it beforehand and maybe takes some public comment.

@ Anonymous; as a local, you obviously don't know what you area talking about. The Key Bridge Marriott stop was not just for tourists or hotel users. There is an entire little community on the North Side of Lee Highway that uses that stop. The point on whether the new Circulator buses would fit inside the hotel is a good one, but they could have stopped on Lee Highway at the 3abcy stop with the homeless guy.

Here's the basic point: when you replace a entire bus service, maybe you should just concentrate on replacing it first and working out the kinks, before you go all crazy and re-routing a bunch of other lines.

I'd agree that using a smarttrip can be a plus. However, the basic point

by charlie on Aug 31, 2010 5:38 pm • linkreport

@ Charlie: I forgot about the buildings along Lee Highway. Good point. But is the walk to the Metro really that far from there? They even moved the Rosslyn stop a block in your direction. What I didn't like about the hotel stop is that it required the bus to go out of its way. I hate backtracking when I'm driving, let alone when I'm on a bus with multiple stops.

I suspect that the service record of the Georgetown Circulator lines will improve with the new routing.

by Anonymous on Aug 31, 2010 5:49 pm • linkreport

@ Anonymous; the walk is bad --not just length but also having to cross Lee Highway twice.

I've been on plenty of BB rides where the driver "forgot" the turn into the hotel and it isn't much quicker. Actually, it is sometimes faster to turn right on lee highway, left on Nash, then turn left on Lee Highway again (makes sense if you drive it). The traffic jams up on the left turn from Ft. Meyer to Lee highway, and the Key Bridge hotel stop often bypasses it.

You're quite right that moving along K st might help the Georgetown Circulators a bit. But then again, the businesses and sights of Georgetown are on M st, not on K.

(I'm not 100% opposed to the K st routing, but again, I'd say DDOT should have phased in the new line, done the same as BB for a while, and then experimented with the K st routing. It wasn't popular then, and this smells like sneaking it in)

by charlie on Aug 31, 2010 6:02 pm • linkreport

Charlie,

New 40 foot buses were purchased to relieve crowding on the Adams Morgan route and buses from that line were transferred to the new route.

John

by John Lisle on Aug 31, 2010 9:04 pm • linkreport

Phone # DC Dept of Transportation if the web page is down

(202) 673-6813

by vc on Aug 31, 2010 9:22 pm • linkreport

Are you all kidding me griping about westbound M? All the 30s buses go there. The new Dupont-Rosslyn line goes there. K Street under Whitehurst is unserved by ANY buses and has major density along it too, probably more than M Street. That's why the Circulator needs to go there AND it still heads back up the hill to M Street at Wisconsin. A faster trip to the heart of Georgetown. Makes sense to me! People are just terrified of change... But if DDOT didn't make any changes to make things run better you'd all just complain about that.

by Park view on Aug 31, 2010 10:13 pm • linkreport

@Park View: This is DC. People love to whine.

This will marginally work better for me. The blue buses never seemed to to pass, so I'm looking forward to the more frequent service. Washington Circle rarely seems to have passengers--and I ride at widely different days/times.

The rollout has sucked, tho.

by Rich on Aug 31, 2010 10:21 pm • linkreport

I don't agree that DDOT is stellar on communications. They did a good job holding cheerleading events for the streetcar, but not a good job developing a thorough operations and financial plan. Moreover, after the first round of events, DDOT teams often were scheduled to meet with community groups or ANC's in the affected areas and either called in that day to cancel or just never showed up.

Gabe Klein is good at hype. Jury is still out on execution.

by Trulee Pist on Aug 31, 2010 10:29 pm • linkreport

@Park view Um... what's all the density on K Street, exactly, that's better served by this route than M Street? The movie theater? Drunk frat boys at Tony and Joe's? Can't say I've seen any other thronging masses down there.

In my case (and I'd imagine true for many other commuters, see a lot of them on the Circulator in my experience), it's pretty inconvenient. Makes it a massive PIA to stop at Trader Joe's (to a lesser degree, same goes for M Street businesses) on my way home from work, or if I stay on, adds either a whole lot of extra uphill to my walk home from the bus stop or time to my ride if I choose to get off at the closest Wisconsin Avenue stop. I suppose I could take the 30s if I wanted to walk further to get to the originating bus stop and then wait a half hour for a bus. But after a long day at work, that doesn't really sound like much fun.

by J in Gtown on Aug 31, 2010 11:26 pm • linkreport

If DDOT can't figure out how to tell people about things like this, just imagine how well they'll do running the streetcar program!

by Fritz on Sep 1, 2010 8:47 am • linkreport

@John Lisle; thank you again for your comments. But in context, what you are saying is "We bought 14 new buses in April 2009 for the Adams-Morgan line, and we are using them for this new line". So your fleet is the same size as it was last week, but you have a new line to serve. There are only so many ways to cut the cake.

@J in Gtown; the Trader Joes problem is going to be huge. Walking several blocks with groceries isn't fun.

Again, public comment? Study? None. Just an arbitrary decision from DDOT on what you like.

The inability to listen: the legacy of Fenty.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 8:47 am • linkreport

Most transit services do a piss poor job on communicating generally, and sadly DDOT is no exception.

I did notice when I was in Montreal that STM seems to do a pretty good job with notice information at bus stops when service changes, although the information is still somewhat cryptic, and hardly good enough for non-regular riders.

- http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/4948313552/
- http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/4948313544/in/photostream/

I am sure that somewhere within APTA, either at the national assn. technical assistance level, or TRB, or out there in the transit systems, there is a best practice manual-checklist for what to do in communicating service changes at the level of individual stops, and generally. DDOT, WMATA, and MTA in Baltimore fail miserably on this.

But we do a piss poor job with what I call "transit wayfinding" generally, especially in terms of explaining surface transit overall and especially to non-regular riders (visitors) specifically.

All of the Metro stations from Union Station to GWU and downtown, and all the Arlington stations on the Wilson Blvd. corridor and in Crystal City-Pentagon ought to have transit wayfinding boards (+ regional bikeways maps too).

Arlington does a better job with this and sets an example with the information posted at bus stops for their shuttle service:

- http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/351758838/
- http://www.flickr.com/photos/rllayman/351757488/in/photostream/

If I had the time, I would work with "my" designer Christopher Taylor Edwards--we did proof of concept signage for intra-neighborhood commercial district directories and history for Florida Market:

- http://www.scribd.com/doc/19889319/Florida-Market-Directory-Handout

but given the way my career is breaking (moving towards bicycle facilities and systems in a big way) I am not sure this is something I can get to any time soon.

by Richard Layman on Sep 1, 2010 8:59 am • linkreport

Charlie,

I'm not sure how you drew that conclusion about the bus fleet, but let me clarify: we purchased new 40 ft. buses that just started service on Sunday. Those buses are being used to relieve overcrowding on the Adams Morgan line, replacing smaller buses that were moved to the new route.

by John Lisle on Sep 1, 2010 9:17 am • linkreport

@John Lisle; sorry then -- the only thing I could find on your web site was dated 2009.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 9:19 am • linkreport

The communications fiasco is annoying, but the actual rerouting is a disaster..

K St. is relatively dead, while Penn Ave (not to mention M St. in Georgetown) has lots of pedestrians due to shops, big condo/apartment buildings, and even a little nightlife. The 24th and 25th St. stops were always fairly busy.

While I understand that M St. also has other bus service, the high frequency seemed to match the very high demand (plenty of people getting on and off even when busses are just a few minutes apart), the new circulator route on M St. doesn't actually increase capacity because it simply replaces the blue bus, and the Circulator routing was by far the best way to get to Penn Ave. & M St. from the Red Line at Farragut (unlike the buses, it picked up right at the station).

There's also NO stop now by the Trader Joe's (the bew circulator route to Rosslyn only has stops a little over a block away on the far side of 24th).

Further, they not only rerouted to K, but they've put in NO STOP between 22nd and 29th St. So you can no longer use the Circulator to get from Downtown to the West End.

Plus I predict a lot of slow downs getting onto K St. from Washington Circle during the afternoon rush hour!

DDOT has chosen to tinker with something that was working well, and make it much worse. I hope they come to their senses (as the previously did) and put the Circulator back on M St.

by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 9:38 am • linkreport

@Anonymous

I 100% disagree. If someone is going to G'town from the east to wander around this gets them there much faster. I hated the jog off of K onto Penn and Washington Circle. If someone is going to the Waterfront or movie theater this gets them there much faster. If someone has a very specific destination that was served by door front access, then you're right it will be slower for them. But I don't think we should make major routes based on that.

The people this hurts are Trader Joe's people and Foggy Bottom metro people. But the 30 buses already run as frequently as the Circulator and serve TJ's and Foggy Bottom and the new service from Rosslyn is even more direct to G'town from the blue/orange line.

The Circulator will now run much faster from the heart of K Street to the heart of Georgetown. It's great!

by Alex on Sep 1, 2010 9:45 am • linkreport

@Alex; umm, you missed the point. The world isn't all about Georgetown. And the circulator isn't an express bus. The West End got cut out, hard, and without any notice.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 10:05 am • linkreport

You can take the new "blue bus" Circulator! And it's closer to most buildings in the West End now.

And really, what do you have against the 30 bus?

by Alex on Sep 1, 2010 10:10 am • linkreport

@Alex; closer to what? Trader Joes? McFadden's? EU delegation? GW hospital?

And if you're so in love with the 30s, why even run a Circulator in Georgetown at all?

No routing is going to keep people happy. But to take out the Blue Bus, and then use that for such a drastic change without any prior notice -- dirty.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 10:19 am • linkreport

@ charlie: the walk is bad --not just length but also having to cross Lee Highway twice.

Arlington Gateway Park provides a perfect crossing from the Marriott to the stop of the Circulator. I use it on a daily basis. It's actually a nice little piece of non-urban jungle on top of a whole bunch of ugly urban jungle. How many interstates have parks on top of them? I-66 does (for half a mile).

It's just too bad they've switched of all the water stuff. don't know when that happened.

I am very torn about the Marriott stops. They are very convenient for the Marriott visitors, many of whom may have a hard time getting to Rosslyn. On the other hand, it costs a lot of time, twisting and turning.

by Jasper on Sep 1, 2010 10:57 am • linkreport

@Jasper; well, I think they switched off the water to keep the homeless people from using it.

That being said, it is a nice park, but you still have to cross Lee Highway.

And as I said before, the Marriott stop was not just about hotel visitors, but people living north of Lee Highway. It also provided shade and free water inside, which is a nice luxury during the summer/winter. I never though they would be stupid enough to get rid of it, but I did think they would move it to the 3abc stop on Lee Highway instead.

If you really want to get rid of twisting, move to stop next to the slug lines and continental billiards.

Arbitrary and capricious.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 11:06 am • linkreport

@ Charlie

"thank you again for your comments. But in context, what you are saying is "We bought 14 new buses in April 2009 for the Adams-Morgan line, and we are using them for this new line". So your fleet is the same size as it was last week, but you have a new line to serve. There are only so many ways to cut the cake. "

You can't expect a bus to be delivered 2 weeks after it has been officially purchased. If you count in delivery time, the time it takes to have sufficient buses to swap the Woodley park - mcpherson minbuses with the new midibuses, then it is pretty normal that it will take time.

So yes if you really want to complain then I can give you further arguments: Some of the newly purchased buses have probably stayed idle for 9 months....

by Vincent Flament on Sep 1, 2010 12:23 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: I think they switched off the water to keep the homeless people from using it.

Yeah, I walk by them. They don't seem to be a problem. It is bad policy though to let the pleasure of many be disturbed by a few. But I do not know what kind of problems they caused.

the Marriott stop was not just about hotel visitors, but people living north of Lee Highway

Oh, wait, there are few blocks there. You're right. That's one of those hidden Arlington corners. There are quite a few.

If you really want to get rid of twisting, move to stop next to the slug lines and continental billiards.

Good idea. But I do think they might consider that too far of a walk from the metro station. Another way of improving the situation there would be to close of N Moore between 29/Lee (or at least 19th) and Wilson to all traffic except buses and cabs.

And back to the original subject: I noticed that the LED sign of the old Blue shuttle stop still says it's the stop to Georgetown.

by Jasper on Sep 1, 2010 12:50 pm • linkreport

@Jasper; another good thing about the Marriott stop is it dump you right onto the Custis bike trail. Again, maybe you should just bike from Georgetown and bike from Rosslyn Metro. But one of the quoted "advantages" of the transition to circulator was bike racks.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 12:58 pm • linkreport

Circulator is an express bus service. The whole point is to make the service run faster than traditional bus service. If you make it stop everywhere, it defeats the point. Learn to love transferring at Wisconsin and M or Rosslyn for local destinations. Meanwhile, the tunnel under Washington Circle will make service run faster and more reliably overall. That section if M near Penn is chronically jammed in that direction. Bus service isn't just about you!

by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 12:58 pm • linkreport

@ Anonymous; no, it isn't an express service. The idea behind Circulator was frequent bus service.

And sure, traffic jams can degrade frequency. And I agree with you that Pennsylvania Avenue leading into Washington Circle get jammed up. But the core of the problem you are running that route through Georgetown and K st which are busy streets.

I'd point out that besides such useful West End places such as Traders Joes, GW Hospital you also have the World Bank/IMF/IFC right there. The IFC stop might be better on K.

And this isn't about me. It is about other riders as well. Sure I am pissed off. I was hoping that the changeover to Circulator would be an improvement, but it seems pretty clear that besides the ability to take SmartTrip service overall is being degraded system-wide.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 1:25 pm • linkreport

It is an express service because it doesn't stop every block. There are other routes with as frequent or more frequent service than Circulator, and they run painfully slowly.

K Street is not as busy as M. If you have two routes running on the same overcrowded line, it makes sense to move the excess capacity elsewhere.

It's DC; important stuff is everywhere. Move the buses faster, and bring a bike if you're so terrified of walking.

by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 1:35 pm • linkreport

"K Street is not as busy as M"

IN georgetown, yes. But downtown K st is bad and that is where the Georgetown line gets caught up in traffic.

I find very little in the circulator plans to talk about express service, and a lot to talk about frequent, cheaper, and better quality service than what WMATA offers.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 1:40 pm • linkreport

Better quality service means faster, with fewer stops. It's inherent in the design of the system since its launch. It does not stop everywhere Metro does (like Foggy Bottom), and it's supposed to be supplementary, not duplicative. There's not much we can do about K besides bus only lanes, which will come eventually, but we can remove a major chokepoint in the system while increasing overall coverage.

by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 1:47 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: But one of the quoted "advantages" of the transition to Circulator was bike racks.

And? Bikers can get anywhere. Rosslyn is a jungle, nut not more so for bikers than others. I can't imagine many bikers using the racks on this particular Circulator. The route is easily bikable.

As for walking vs biking in Rosslyn. I've done both. I used to bike, now I walk. It's nice. Better than sitting in a cramped bus.

M near Penn is chronically jammed in that direction

Bus lane anybody?

by Jasper on Sep 1, 2010 1:53 pm • linkreport

A bus lane through Washington Circle would be nice, but bus lanes are hard enough to enforce without the confusion of a traffic circle. You'd also cut vehicular traffic down to one lane in each direction, so I don't know if it would be politically feasible. It is nice to dream, though.

by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 2:00 pm • linkreport

@Jasper; well, personally I agree on the bike. So why did people want to switch again? If it came down to SmartTrip, couldn't you just but a reader in -- sounds cheaper than buying a new bus but what do I know.

Bus lane might help. Light timing is also a problem. I'd also move the bus stop a bit further down from the traffic light. They get caught up there, and then car turning right on 24th get caught behind jaywalkers and buses.

by charlie on Sep 1, 2010 2:01 pm • linkreport

@Jasper: Is there a particular reason why the new stop across the street is better than the old one given the single shelter being used for the Circulator and Georgetown shuttle services? The dedicated bus driveway further down Moore Street seems like a decent turnaround point for either service, and I don't understand why a bus shelter needs to go unused.

I even saw a Circulator bus parked there yesterday, and some supervisors were gesturing toward the turnaround in talking about the routing Â… it seems like they didn't know it existed before.

by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 2:54 pm • linkreport

@charlie You seem to be the only one who is so perturbed by this change. You lost your one seat ride. We get it. So DDOT's supposed to run an entire bus system based entirely on your needs? Lame.

by Park view on Sep 1, 2010 11:27 pm • linkreport

Charlie is probably far from the only one - a large number of passengers would board or alight at the West End stops that have now been discontinued - and that's without counting those who used the stations further west on M St, who'll have to add a two-block walk.

I'm curious if DDOT has any data showing that there will actually be greater demand for the service if it skips the West End and M St. I assume there's a reason the K St. routing was previously abandoned???

By the way, for all those who think this will save time, I can tell you from observing the traffic at the bottleneck where cars enter from Washington Circle into K St. (one lane entryway!) that at rush hour this is a much longer way of getting to Georgetown, as you're competing with lots of traffic heading towards the Whitehurst and the 66.

by West end on Sep 2, 2010 9:41 am • linkreport

I was under the impression that the K Street routing would allow the bus to bypass Washington Circle and continue under the tunnel. If this is not the case (as the continued existence of the 21st & Penn stop seems to suggest, then I'm not as enthusiastic about the change. West End is right that entering K Street from Washington Circle can be worse than M Street.

I can see why they wanted this routing in the past combined with the cut to Wisconsin Avenue service: the buses could have simply turned right on M Street to continue their route uninterrupted, making it a true circulator.

by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2010 12:32 pm • linkreport

@ Anonymous; "making it a true circulator"

I'm sure transit geeks love the idea of matching routes to the bus names, but in the real world, people ride these buses and sometimes the most efficient route is not the best route. Sure it is tough the draw the line. And some real communication with DDOT would make a difference.

You need a 21st and Penn route to hit GW and WB.

by charlie on Sep 2, 2010 12:41 pm • linkreport

No need for pejoratives Â… what are you doing posting on a transportation blog, exactly?

You don't need to hit GW and the World Bank because they're already on Metrorail. Beyond the semantic neatness of turning the bus into a true circulator, I was trying to imply that there would also be a quicker turnaround to keep serving the busier downtown section of the line. But it seems that they have enough buses to go around now to keep that from being necessary.

by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2010 3:05 pm • linkreport

@ Anonymous; the point of Circulator, which you simply don't seem to get, is to bring people into areas NOT served by metrorail, which is why you are trying to bring west end/GW/IMF folks into Georgetown.

Maybe a "true" circulator would just stop there and not go K st downtown, and a second circulator could do that. Longer bus lines are probably more effected by traffic hangups.

And the BB was designed to give Georgetown residents easier access to DuPont and Rosslyn metro stations, as well as service parts of the west end not well served by Metro. Large number of hotels on M st.

by charlie on Sep 2, 2010 3:10 pm • linkreport

If IMF folks want to get into Georgetown, the Rosslyn-Dupont Circulator is only a block or two away.

by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2010 3:20 pm • linkreport

I have a question why couldn't the Circulators cross each other at either 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th streets or Penn Ave. At any of those streets you could have had the buses sharing one stop with each other both directions or with the stops in sight of each other and would not add significant time to the route.

by kk on Sep 2, 2010 6:26 pm • linkreport

Latest update. There's a new bus stop pole at the Rosslyn bus stop. I'm wondering who put it there. DDOT or VDOT. The Circulator has put itself on top and the GUTS and GUMC shuttles have gone down a position. Take that elitist shuttles!

They've also figured out how to write Rosslyn-Dupont on the buses LED screens. Within a week! So fast!

by Jasper on Sep 4, 2010 4:48 pm • linkreport

I'm not clear on why the stop had to be moved. I also wonder if it would make more sense to say "Rosslyn via Gerogetown" (and vice-versa) instead of "Georgetown-Rosslyn." I noticed the bus driver had to explain the bus was going to Rosslyn. Or do people just not read signs?

by Omar on Sep 4, 2010 6:53 pm • linkreport

What totally blows is that now there are no stops for residents of the West End neighborhood! By removing all the stops on Pennsylvania after Washington Circle and only adding stops on K St in Georgetown, you have effectively cut the West End off from Circulator usage. How about a stop at K and 25th? At least then we wouldn't have to walk 15 minutes just to get to the next stop!

by Dan on Sep 6, 2010 4:09 pm • linkreport

@Dan: To be fair, West Enders still have it okay: they can catch the new Circulator out to Georgetown at M and 24th, though that won't take you up M Street. Foggy Bottom residents south of K street will have a tougher time, though, since you might as well walk up Penn into Georgetown by the time you walk all the way north to 24th and M.

by Erik W on Sep 6, 2010 5:57 pm • linkreport

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