D.C. launches bus service

Forget trying to hail a cab and spending up to $20 to get around. Students interested in traveling to popular destinations in downtown D.C. will have the opportunity to use a new bus system this semester.

The D.C. Circulator, a sleek-looking bus that takes its riders to Washington’s premier cultural, shopping, dining and business destinations, was created this summer to give people in Washington a transportation alternative.

The new system, which runs from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, uses 29 buses to make various stops at destinations near Union Station, downtown D.C., the National Mall, the Southwest waterfront, the Golden Triangle/K Street and Georgetown. The closest stops to campus are at 24th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and 21st and K streets.

The D.C. area is already swarmed with public transportation systems, including Metrorail, Metro buses and various taxi and shuttle services. Yet, Rebekah Braswell, transportation administrative assistant for the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, said, “(the) Metro bus was designed to bring people into and out of the city, and there was not much connecting other D.C. destinations.”

Unlike Metrorail and Metro Bus, which are funded by federal and local governments, the Circulator was created by both the public and private sectors. The D.C. Department of Transportation, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and D.C. Surface Transit Incorporated, a non-profit venture of several D.C. organizations, all work together to provide the Circulator’s service.

Bill Rice, spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said the Circulator is completely different from other transportation systems, specifically the Metro bus.

“The Circulator is meant to serve routes that are not presently served (by Metro bus),” he said.

The Circulator’s service began July 10 and has two major routes. The yellow line operates between Union Station and Georgetown, and the red line goes between the Southwest Waterfront and the Convention Center. The buses run in five- to 10-minute intervals throughout the day.

The Circulator is also cheaper than most other transportation services. A one-way trip on the Circulator is $1, compared to Metro’s cheapest fare of $1.35. To transfer from the Metro to the Circulator costs 35 cents, and a transfer from Metro bus or another line of the Circulator is free.

Riders can pay their fares through the SmarTrip card, cash or tickets purchased from meters. Day passes will also be available later this fall.

For GW students new to the Metro area, the Circulator also provides a simple way to reach tourist destinations. The yellow line stops in Georgetown, Chinatown and Union Station, and the red line stops at the Spy Museum, the National Mall and the Smithsonian museums.

While a number of students admit that they have never used D.C.’s Metro bus because they find it intimidating, some students said they would use the Circulator.

Freshman Julianne Berg, a Chicago native, said she is no stranger to public transportation but still feels apprehensive about the complex Metro bus system and schedule.

“I have not used the Metro, but I intend to,” she said. “If I could figure out the Metro Bus I would use it, and I would definitely ride the Circulator.”

For more information on the D.C. Circulator and a complete list of stops, visit www.dccirculator.com.

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