Don’t dilute the Circulator brand

What makes the DC Circulator different from “a regular bus”? Is it just that it’s red? The lines are a little straighter? Or is the only difference that the D.C. government controls it instead of WMATA? If D.C. officials don’t have a clear vision, they might wreck the success they’ve built.

The Circulator is a great bus because it runs on short headways of no more than 10 minutes and on easy-to-understand routes that connect key activity centers. You don’t have to look at a schedule. You can just know you wait at a stop for a little while and a bus should come. And you can probably keep in your head where the stops are.

Unfortunately, transit planners at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are considering adding some Circulator routes with a 12 to 15 minute headway, The Post’s Bob Thomson reported. That would be a bad call. Everyone wants the Circulator in his or her neighborhood (here’s an example), but they want what the Circulator means. Water it down too much, and it stops meaning much.

In fact, according to Joe Sternlieb, the Georgetown Business Improvement District director who was deeply involved in the original Circulator when he worked at the Downtown BID, the first proposals were for a bus running every five minutes. That changed to 10, and now the Circulator aims for a 10-minute headway but often gaps between buses can stretch much longer.

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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Peter Galuszka · March 10, 2014

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