The DC Circulator (, a bus service designed to connect the dots between some of the city's major business, entertainment and tourist destinations, is opening its Crayola-bright doors today.

The 29 buses, which display colorful route maps on their exteriors, make 52 stops along two crosstown paths -- hitting Union Station, the Convention Center, the Southwest waterfront, K Street and Georgetown in the process. For commuters, the city-owned and Metro-operated Circulator won't replace Metrobus anytime soon: Routes are less complicated, and the service's focus is on transporting visitors and locals alike to popular spots, not on aiding 9-to-5ers coming in and out of town.

Shuttles run in five- to 10-minute intervals, and this week, rides are free; starting July 18th, the cost is $1. If you're eager for better access to Georgetown nightlife and other evening hot spots, don't put on those dancing shoes quite yet. The buses, which begin their routes at 7 a.m. each morning, call it a day at 9 p.m. -- though District Department of Transportation Director Dan Tangherlini says that the schedule could change if there's enough demand from the city's night owls.

Caitlin Carroll

Ride the new DC Circulator this week for free.