Since January, 2003
            
 (a random before-and-after moment)
February 16, 2006
March 17, 2019
South Capitol at Potomac, Looking Northwest (see more)

This week DDOT released its Final Circulator Development Plan, which among many other items calls for the extension of the Union Station-Navy Yard route along M Street to the Southwest Waterfront, sometime in the next two years, a plan that already has funding from the DC Council.
I asked about the timeframe for the new service, and DDOT informed me that it is proposed for the summer or early fall of 2015, pending the receipt of new buses, which have already been ordered and are expected to arrive in late spring or early summer.
Of the 1,041 people who took this year's survey, 44 percent identified the Southwest Waterfront as one of three top areas to which Circulator service should expand. This page from the report gives additional metrics on the proposed expanded route.
The plan also calls for a "Union Station-Navy Yard Schedule and Span Pilot Study," that would provide additional evening and weekend service to see if ridership demand and the increasing population around the Navy Yard Metro station supports making the changes long-term. DDOT tells me that this study is expected to begin in the first half of 2015. Currently the route runs until 7 pm weekdays in winter months, and 9 pm in the summer months along with Saturday service and extended evening/Sunday service for Nationals games.
However, the report also recognizes that this line "in particular suffers from severe congestion around Union Station" and that DDOT is pursuing options to reroute this line.
One other nugget very deep in the 128-page report is that down the road, if and when the Convention Center/Southwest Waterfront line is reestablished, "additional analysis should be conducted to determine the potential of extending the Convention Center-Southwest route to the Navy Yard in lieu of extending the Union Station-Navy Yard route to Southwest."
Other service expansions on tap to appear between now and FY 2017 include the new National Mall route, a new National Cathedral-McPherson Square route, and three additional extensions: the Potomac Avenue-Skyline route to Congress Heights, the Union Station-Georgetown route to the Cathedral, and the Dupont-Georgetown-Rosslyn route to U Street and Howard University. In the distant future (FY2021-FY2024) there could possibly be a Dupont-Southwest Waterfront route.
Read the full plan for more detail than you probably ever wanted about the service and the expansion plans across the city, or just scan the Executive Summary if you're lazy. And if you want to receive updates without having to wait for me to get around to telling you, you can sign up for the DC Circulator Newsletter.
Comments (7)
   
 
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JES says: (12/10/14 5:32 PM)
Yes to increased hours. And yes, the line does suffer from some pretty wicked traffic issues, but so do most Circulator lines; I'm not sure where else you could reroute it, given how many people I see who actually take it to/from Union Station.

Also, I find it somewhat humorous that the "to be discontinued" part of the line isn't even right on that map; the bus makes its' turn on K St just past Parc Riverside; it doesn't go all the way up to I St like the map shows.


conngs0 says: (12/11/14 9:22 AM)
I find it interesting that 44 percent of those surveyed listed SW Waterfront as a desired destination for Circulator expansion. I could see that neighborhood becoming a destination when the PN Hoffman development is closer to completion and when the soccer stadium is finished, but not now. I wonder how many of those 44 percent just don't know the difference between Navy Yard and Waterfront.

As for the Navy Yard - Union Station Circulator route, I think the expansion to SW Waterfront is sensible just to create a direct shot between SW Waterfront and Eastern Market. However, I wonder about the wisdom of continuing to expand the Circulator routes. Won't the Circulator just become as inefficient and unreliable as Metrobus? I thought the point was to augment the existing system by providing short routes connecting key areas that aren't already directly connected.

This particular route is already impractical when it comes to actually traveling to/from Union Station - especially during rush hour. The congestion around Union Station is a problem, but the route itself also just travels too far east for it to be a consistent solution (ironically, the route is too "circular"). The traffic on Barrack's Row and then the six-plus blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue both add several minutes to the journey. It's actually faster to (if you're in any kind of shape) walk, bike, or take Metro to Union Station from Navy Yard.


JD says: (12/11/14 9:46 AM)
Because of the loss of the Convention Center/Waterfront Circulator, I think there was a *big* push in SW to make their desires known during this study period. That might have something to do with the numbers.

And all the problems with the US-NY route that you mention are also discussed in the report.

It'll all be fixed by that new Metro line coming down New Jersey from Union Station someday. :-)


JES says: (12/11/14 9:51 AM)
Faster to walk from Navy Yard to Union? You must experience some hella traffic then, lol. Faster to bike though, definitely.

That said, if you're going to Union Station at rush hour from here, wouldn't you just take metro? Sure there's a transfer, but headways at peak would mean that you'd get there a LOT faster. Whenever we take it all the way to Union, it's because we're traveling off-peak when traffic isn't that terrible.


conngs0 says: (12/11/14 10:29 AM)
Yeah, I've had super bad luck with traffic on the Circulator. But Union Station is only 1.6 miles from the Navy Yard Metro Station (and also, many people might live closer). So, at a reasonable pace, it's about a 30 minute walk? I've spent close to 45 minutes on the Circulator (not counting waiting for the bus).

And indeed, Metro is definitely the better option during rush hour specifically because of traffic. But again, isn't at least one of the points of the Circulator to be a shortcut to help alleviate traffic on Metro during those peak hours? I think the Circulator is great. But if it just becomes a shiny red version of Metrobus, I'm worried it will lose its usefulness.


conngs0 says: (12/11/14 10:32 AM)
Honestly, I don't have enough confidence in the policymakers to think that the Metro 2040 plan is anything more than pie-in-the-sky, but it sure makes a lot of sense - especially the line down NJ Avenue from Union Station. If even a healthy portion of that is included in the Olympics bid, I'd be a lot more supportive of having the Games in the DC area.


Westnorth says: (12/18/14 12:12 PM)
People generally don't ride bus routes from one end to the other end. In the case of the Hill circulator route, it's good for Union Station to Eastern Market, or Eastern Market to the Yards, or in the future Southwest to the Yards. (It's so weird that the A40s are the only buses that make local stops down M Street.)

Southwest offers Southeast: Cantina Marina, Arena Stage, a library, and the DMV
Southeast offers Southwest: everything else?

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