D.C. finds funds to put H Street Shuttle back on road again

The H Street Shuttle, which began operating in January 2009, was suspended on Sunday, Dec 6. The District Department of Transportation, which funded the shuttle in 2009, questioned whether it could support what will most likely be $250,000 in operating costs for next year.
By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The free H Street Shuttle, which was suspended Sunday because of a loss in funding, will resume service by Dec. 21, according to a spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

"The Administration is committed to restoring the H Street shuttle service and has identified [District Department of Transportation] funds to support the continuation of the route," Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for Fenty (D), said in a statement.

The H Street Business Cooperative, a nonprofit group aimed at addressing the transportation needs of H Street Northeast businesses, started the shuttle in January.

It runs along H Street from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station to the Minnesota Avenue Station and has four stops.

Last year, the District Department of Transportation provided about $130,000 to operate the shuttle, but DDOT spokesman John Lisle had said recently that the agency could not afford to continue service through the end of the year.

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) met Monday with Fenty's people to discuss finding ways to relaunch the shuttle, said Charles Allen, Wells's chief of staff Allen said it would take about $250,000 this year to operate the shuttle.

Allen said the shuttles can hold 12 to 15 people and are expected to transport about 60,000 people in the coming year. Since bloggers began writing about the suspension last week, almost 100 people have contacted Wells's office pleading for its return, Allen said.

According to Allen, the shuttle, despite running alongside the X1 and X2 Metrobuses, travels the distance in half the time because it has fewer stops and is designed as an express service for H Street businesses.

Stephen Fleming, 24, who lives in the H Street corridor and works there as a bartender, said the shuttle is a welcome service and brought business into the neighborhood.

"It's frustrating, because the public transportation down here is lacking," he said "There is also very minimal parking. The shuttle keeps a lot of people willing to come down here."

But some Northeast residents said the shuttle was not well-advertised and seemed confusing.

Molly Dineen, a 22-year-old intern, has lived along H Street for six months and said she didn't know where or how to find the shuttle. "I think if it was better publicized, people would use it more," she said. But despite not knowing details about the shuttle, she said a free bus trip down H Street is a good idea.

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