To Circulate or Not?

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, May 13, 2007

D ear Dr. Gridlock:

I've started walking back and forth from my office at 14th and K streets NW to Union Station to catch the MARC train. Do I need the exercise? Sure. However, the red Circulator bus is totally unreliable, especially between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m.

I walked from Union Station to 14th and K this morning -- a 40-minute walk -- and did not see a single bus. Routinely, between 5 and 6 p.m., the buses are nowhere to be found, and when they do come, they come three at a time.

-- Frank Swerda

Charles Town, W.Va.

The Circulator, an experiment in urban transit that operates three routes in downtown Washington, has a distinctive design and an unusual schedule: Buses are supposed to arrive every 10 minutes.

After getting this letter, I walked to K Street and waited for a Circulator during the evening rush. In 17 minutes, the bus arrived. It was pretty crowded so I caught the next one, four minutes later.

Then I watched eastbound buses stop at the corner of 16th and K streets between 5:15 and 6 o'clock on three evenings:

April 23:5:21 p.m., 5:35, 5:39, 5:41, 5:49, 6:01.

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