Circulator bus fares could double in 2014 under council plan


Cheh’s fare hike proposal would erode the Circulator system’s price advantage over Metrobuses. (The Washington Post)

The city’s popular fleet of Circulator buses could become more expensive for riders under a plan floated by D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh.

Currently, Circulator buses charge passenger $1 per ride — 60 to 80 cents less than Metrobus charges for most rides. Cheh (D-Ward 3), in her capacity as chair of the council’s transportation committee, is proposing to double the Circulator fare to $2 for riders paying cash. Those using SmarTrip cards would pay $1.50, according to a draft report circulated Wednesday.

The fare changes, proposed to go into effect July 1, 2014, mirror ones proposed by the city transportation department in 2011 that were later reversed by the council. Cheh proposes to use the revenue to fund extensions of existing Circulator lines as follows: “(a) Extend the Rosslyn/Georgetown/Dupont Line to serve Adams Morgan, U Street, Shaw and Howard University. (b) Extend the Union Station/Georgetown Line to the National Cathedral. (c) Extend the Union Station/Navy Yard Line to the Southwest Waterfront.”

This would be in addition to a plan announced last month that would create a new Circulator route along the National Mall starting in 2014.

The Cheh budget proposal would also add 30 additional parking enforcement officers, expected to generate $3 million in fine revenue covering the $2.4 million cost of hiring the new officers; increase fines for street-sweeping parking violations from $30 to $45, generating $972,000; and increase sidewalk cafe fees and commuter bus fees, generating $647,000 and $273,000 respectively for various programs.

Cheh could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · May 8, 2013