Wisconsin Ave. Segment of Circulator Route Won't Be Cut

By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

District officials announced Tuesday that plans to end Circulator bus service to several stops on Wisconsin Avenue NW in Georgetown have been canceled, although they don't know where they'll find the funds to operate the route.

The Wisconsin Avenue extension had been eliminated to close a $950,000 gap in the D.C. Department of Transportation's budget, DDOT spokesman John Lisle said last week.

District officials said they reversed the decision because of vocal public support for the service. It will continue to operate on Wisconsin Avenue from Whitehaven Street to N Street.

The city will now have to find a way to fund the stops. A spokesman from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's office and D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) both said the money to save the route will most likely come from the council's budget. But that budget has been approved and does not include funding.

Evans said money will have to be transferred from other projects. It was unclear Tuesday afternoon which projects would lose funds to pay for the Circulator route.

Lisle said last week that the Wisconsin Avenue extension served 2 percent of the Georgetown-Union Station route but accounted for 15 percent of its cost. Evans disputed those findings Tuesday. "It's actually a fairly used route -- more so than the numbers were showing," he said.

Evans said that after he received letters from residents and business leaders, he and Fenty worked together to reverse the decision.

Most who argued for the retention of the stops said that they were vital travel outlets for residents, that businesses in the area would lose revenue and that the upcoming reopening of a Safeway store in Georgetown would increase the number of people taking the Circulator.

Hazel Denton, who is on the board of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, was part of the campaign to keep the stops. She said she rides the Circulator three to four times a week and was shocked when she heard the service might end.

"I was really upset," she said. "It would have impacted my whole life."

Allan Wendt, who has lived in Georgetown since 1975, also wrote several letters to Fenty and Evans, requesting that the stops remain. "I was dismayed because this is a very useful route," he said. "At a time when we are trying to reduce pollution, why would we be eliminating bus routes? I am delighted that the city chose to preserve this route."

DDOT announced several other changes last week to the Circulator route that will take effect Oct. 4. The Smithsonian-National Mall loop will not operate during the fall and winter months but will resume April 3, and Circulator stops will be added in both directions on Columbia Road NW at Ontario Road.

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