Why are Rosslyn-Dupont Circulator stops where they are?
On Tuesday, I discussed why the Circulator uses lower K Street routing for the Georgetown-Union Station line. I also had the opportunity to ask DDOT for their rationale for decisions around the Rosslyn-Dupont Circulator line.
Why not stop on 19th Street directly in front of the Dupont Circle metro exit?
By traveling up New Hampshire onto Dupont Circle and taking an immediate right onto 19th Street, the Circulator could stop directly at the Metro Station, something it only does in a few places (e.g. Navy Yard, Eastern Market) but which is extremely effective in those locations.
Unfortunately, DDOT tested this option and decided against it. According to Aaron Overman, who heads up the Circulator for DDOT:
We tested out various routing patterns at Dupont Circle before deciding the existing route was the most efficient. Buses lost up to 6 minutes per trip by traveling up New Hampshire, onto Dupont Circle, and back onto 19th Street. Customers can walk to the Metro escalator in 30-60 seconds versus waiting for the bus to navigate 6 minutes of traffic congestion on Dupont Circle.It's true that traffic on New Hampshire backs up entering Dupont Circle because of the lack of a green right turn signal. Another option would be to bypass that intersection by turning left onto 20th Street, right onto P Street and around the circle to 19th. This, too, apparently added significant time to the route. Accessing Dupont Circle at all, Overman maintained, would lengthen runs so much that there are not enough buses to maintain the 10 minute headway.
Eschewing the direct connection to the Dupont Metro entrance was likely the correct decision, but could be better reinforced by clear signage. For those riders who come up from the Metro when a bus is idling at the stop, it will be readily apparent where to catch the Circulator, but other times, it will be much less clear. Improving this wayfinding, though, may depend less on DDOT's efforts and more on those of WMATA, who would be particularly wise to direct Circulator seekers to the south exit with improved in-station signage.
Why move the Rosslyn Metro stop farther away from the Metro entrance?
The Georgetown Connection bus stopped at the bus bays immediately in front of the Metro entrance. Why move it, particularly when it means having to cross 19th Street and wait at a more secluded bus stop, a not unimportant safety consideration for nighttime riders? More importantly, if this change is absolutely necessary, is DDOT working to implement any permanent signage for metro riders to direct them to the more distant stop?
Very soon, construction of two 30+ story towers along N Moore street north of 19th Street will turn this block into an active, congested construction zone. The bus-only turnaround alley across from the Rosslyn Metro station will close permanently. Arlington County advised us of this.Here it seems DDOT had a good foresight, though they gave no indication whether signs at the old Georgetown Connection stop would direct riders to the new stop location. However, it's too bad the changes at Rosslyn can't keep allowing buses to stop right in front of the Metro.
We moved the stop across the street so that when construction begins, we will have claim to a permanent stop and not be required to loop far around the block to serve alternate locations that will move to different spots as construction phases change. It will keep buses out of the active construction area and reduce systemwide delays.
Why eliminate the Key Bridge Marriott stop?
Several readers wondered why the Georgetown Connection stop at the Key Bridge Marriott hotel was lost in the switchover. While some readers questioned the necessity of the stop to begin with, others pointed out its utility to residents of the neighborhoods on the north side of Lee Highway. Overman explained the stop elimination:
The Circulator cannot stop on or serve private property for liability reasons. We must remain on public roadways.This is certainly an inevitable downside to a private, business-funded jitney service being converted into a publicly-provided bus route, but not insurmountable.
But I'm not convinced people living north of Lee Highway and Marriott hotel guests are so inconvenienced by the additional 1004.98 ft (by Google Maps's estimation) they will have to walk to the now closer Rosslyn stop to outweigh the increases in route speed not having to double back to the Marriott will produce.
Why not connect the Rosslyn-Dupont route to Foggy Bottom?
At just under 2/3 of a mile, these popular areas are just far enough apart that many people would not walk, but close enough that taking the Metro all the way to Metro Center to transfer lines is nearly absurd. Yet, unless you're familiar with the quirky L1 or H1 schedules, or are willing to walk 4 of the 9 blocks to catch the L2, there has been literally no way to get from one to the other.
While stopping the Circulator on 23rd Street directly across at the Foggy Bottom metro stop would require a significant detour, numerous bus and metro riders transfer between modes at the 24th and Pennsylvania, a popular stop for the entire 30s line, D5 and Georgetown-Union Station Circulator.
When asked about the possibility of making a better connection to Foggy Bottom, Overman has this to say:
We are stopping at the same places the old Blue Bus didWhile there are arguments both ways, this "status quo" justification isn't really convincing given the differenct circumstances. The Georgetown Connection bus more closely approximated a jitney service, not a full public bus route. When the Circulator took over the route, it could have taken opportunities to enhance modal connectivity and strengthen the entire transit network.
— the only exceptions are the Key Bridge Marriott, moving the stop across 19th Street N in Rosslyn, and the 24th and L stop moved from nearside to farside because there was insufficient space for a safe bus stop nearside with the service driveway. The Union Station-bound bus still stops at 24th and Penn, why duplicate it when we could serve other destinations in the West End that aren't served by any public transit?
To say 24th and L isn't served by public transit because there isn't a bus stop at the corner is like saying that Nationals Stadium isn't served by transit because riders have to walk three blocks from the Navy Yard Metro/Circulator stop. Spreading numerous bus stops thinly across a small area is more detrimental than helpful because it makes the transit network more difficult to understand. Trunk routes exist for a reason.
The benefits from having the Dupont-bound Circulator stop at 24th & Penn It's possible that traveling around Washington Circle would lengthen the run time, but I doubt the difference would be as significant as at Dupont Circle since the light cycles at Penn, 25th and L Street are relatively long and the light timing along L Street is not always beneficial to those driving east.
I asked DDOT whether this route was evaluated, but didn't receive an answer.
After numerous questions back and forth, it's clear that certain changes on the Circulator were both justified and well studied. Others might simply have been kept because DDOT was focused on moving the Blue Bus over to Circulator rather than reevaluating much of the line. On decision-making, DDOT's John Lisle said: DDOT has been engaging the public on broader plans for the Circulator's future. They can maximize support for the system, and the utility to riders, by similarly communicating about the more fine-grained decisions as well.
[I]t seems some people assume these decisions about routes and stop changes were made haphazardly, but in truth a lot of thought went into them and there are good, legitimate reasons for the decisions, even if they're not readily apparent to everyone.
It's possible that traveling around Washington Circle would lengthen the run time, but I doubt the difference would be as significant as at Dupont Circle since the light cycles at Penn, 25th and L Street are relatively long and the light timing along L Street is not always beneficial to those driving east.
I asked DDOT whether this route was evaluated, but didn't receive an answer.
After numerous questions back and forth, it's clear that certain changes on the Circulator were both justified and well studied. Others might simply have been kept because DDOT was focused on moving the Blue Bus over to Circulator rather than reevaluating much of the line. On decision-making, DDOT's John Lisle said:
DDOT has been engaging the public on broader plans for the Circulator's future. They can maximize support for the system, and the utility to riders, by similarly communicating about the more fine-grained decisions as well.
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