credit: Robert Thomson/The Washington Post
(Credit: Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

A newly published survey by researchers at Howard University shows that the long-popular D.C. Circulator bus system is … still popular.

The decade-old system, designed to link certain mass transit stations and neighborhoods with downtown cultural, entertainment and business locations, got high marks from riders in a survey conducted in the summer and fall of 2012, according to a report released Tuesday.

The study, sponsored by the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, a nonprofit think tank, was conducted by Howard University’s Transportation Research Center. The center also re-analyzed the results of previous annual surveys dating to 2005.

Of the nearly 1,800 riders who filled out questionaires last year, the report says, about nine in 10 said they were satisfied with the service, which began in 2003 and is run by a partnership of the D.C. Department of Transportation, Metro and the Downtown Business Improvement District.

More than 80 percent of the respondents said they reside in the city, and most said they use the Circulator system to commute between home and work or school.

And most of them don’t ride the buses out of necessity. The report says “57 percent of the patrons surveyed own vehicles. This shows that the Circulator is helping to promote the use of mass transit in the D.C. metropolitan area throughout the year.”

The system’s five routes run between Woodley Park in Northwest Washington and McPherson Square; Union Station and Georgetown; Union Station and the Southwest Waterfront; the Potomac Avenue Metro station and the Skyland neighborhood in Southeast Washington; and Dupont Circle and Rosslyn.

The low-fare buses operate on varying schedules at different times of year.