Georgetown resists plans to pare back neighborhood’s Circulator stops

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The DC Circulator runs along Wisconsin Avenue NW in Georgetown. (Brian Kapur/The Current/April 2016)
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After a successful community effort to preserve DC Circulator service on Georgetown’s stretch of Wisconsin Avenue NW, the local advisory neighborhood commission is now fighting plans to reduce the number of Circulator bus stops.

On Monday, ANC 2E (Georgetown, Burleith) unanimously opposed the D.C. Department of Transportation’s proposal to remove six Georgetown stops from the Georgetown-Union Station line. Commissioner Rick Murphy said the cuts would reduce ridership, threatening the line’s viability.

The Transportation Department’s proposal, an effort to speed service and increase reliability, targets the following stops within Georgetown:

Eastbound Pennsylvania at 28th Street NW
Eastbound M Street at Thomas Jefferson Street NW
North- and southbound Wisconsin Avenue at P Street NW
North- and southbound Wisconsin at R Street NW

The proposal would leave 11 stops in place on the line within Georgetown, including seven stops north of M Street. The neighborhood’s other Circulator route — the Dupont Circle-Georgetown-Rosslyn line — would not be affected.

The Transportation Department is also proposing to eliminate five other stops elsewhere on the Georgetown-Union Station line:

Eastbound and westbound New York Avenue at 9th Street NW
Eastbound K Street at 11th Street NW
Eastbound Pennsylvania Avenue at 21st Street NW
Westbound 21st Street at K Street NW.

Currently, the Georgetown-Union Station route’s averages 5.2 stops per mile eastbound and 4.5 per mile westbound, while the Circulator’s standard calls for no more than four stops per mile, according to the Transportation Department.

In the agency’s analysis, consolidating bus stops would improve the Georgetown-Union Station Circulator’s efficiency and ridership. Bus stops were selected for proposed elimination based on a study that examined ridership, proximity to activity centers, transfers to other routes and population and employment density, according to the Transportation Department.

Neighbors offered mixed reviews about the proposed bus stop consolidation on Monday.

Resident Patrick Lawson supported the proposal, saying that he would be more likely to ride the Circulator if several stops were cut because the bus would run more quickly.

“My biggest problem with the Circulator is how slow it goes because there’s so gosh darn many stops,” Lawson said. “A bus stop every two blocks is ridiculous.”

Another resident opposed a cut to one bus stop — Wisconsin Avenue at R Street NW — saying it is heavily used and particularly important to the community at night.

“When I got off the other day, there were six to seven people at one time, and there were eight people the other time,” the resident told neighbors at Monday’s meeting. “The issue with the Circulator going slow is coming from Water Street up to M Street. … To sort that out I think is the way that we point DDOT to spend its energy.”