- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005

Getting around the District will become a little easier next month with the debut of the Downtown DC Circulator, a fleet of brightly colored buses that will connect riders from Union Station to Georgetown and the Southwest Waterfront to the Convention Center for $1.

“We heard people saying they often bypass certain areas of town because these areas are difficult and expensive to access,” said Dan Tangherlini, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, which owns the DC Circulator.

Riders can pay $1 on the bus or purchase tickets at fare machines located on sidewalks along the designated routes.

One route travels east and west on K Street and has about 15 stops in each direction. Another route travels north and south and stops about 10 times each way, including three stops along the Southwest Waterfront.

The buses will run at five- to 10-minute intervals daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and give riders year-round access to places that Metrorail can’t reach.

Metrorail doesn’t go to Georgetown, for instance, but the DC Circulator will make five stops there between 28th Street and Wisconsin Avenue NW. It will also stop at four places on K Street between the Farragut West and Foggy Bottom Metrorail stops.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will manage the service. First Transit, a private transit operator, will run it.

WMATA says the new buses will not take business away from its bus or rail service, which completed a combined 336 million trips in fiscal 2004.

“We see the Circulator as a complement to our bus service,” said spokeswoman Cathy Asato.

Operating costs, estimated at $4.5 million a year, will be funded by the District, the federal government, the Washington Convention Center Authority and the Downtown, Golden Triangle and Georgetown Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Mr. Tangherlini said.

City officials say this new bus will be ideal for riders from tourists and commuters to D.C. residents.

“Whether residents use it to run an errand or conventioneers ride across town for lunch, the Circulator will provide a tremendous economic boost to the city,” said Richard Bradley, executive director of the Downtown BID and president of DC Surface Transit Inc.

DC Surface Transit, which will handle marketing for the Circulator, is a nonprofit group including the Downtown, Golden Triangle and Georgetown BIDs, the convention center authority, the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp. and the National Capital Planning Commission.

The fleet of 29, 55-seat buses cost between $9 million and $10 million, paid for by transportation funds that the city had set aside.

Annual ridership is expected to reach 4.6 million in 2008. Mr. Bradley said there are plans to expand the service to the national Mall.

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