Park service to begin shuttle service across Mall

A new shuttle bus service will give passengers a $5-ride across the National Mall starting March 12.

Rides on the new transportation service – announced by the National Park Service Friday – will be discounted to $1 during this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, from March 20 to April 27.

The shuttle’s regular route will span from Union Station to the World War II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial and the Smithsonian Metro stop before returning to Union Station.

It will pick up visitors at Hains Point, near the Tidal Basin, during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line said more stops could be added to the route, depending on public response to the shuttle. He said the $5 service – which will be funded through the fare – fills a void in transportation options on the Mall created after the group Tourmobile, which stopped operating its $32-tour service last October after holding a contract with the park service for about 40 years.

The Trust for the National Mall, a nonprofit launched in 2007 to foster public-private partnerships to improve the grounds, announced Monday that the park received a $1 million donation from John Akridge, its founder and chairman, for improvements to the grounds. It has aided programs including increased recycling and energy-efficient lighting on the Mall.

Caroline Cunningham, president of the trust, said the donation is the starting point for a campaign to raise $350 million to support the Mall’s restoration and upkeep with private funds.

“We encourage people to get involved to make the park a beautiful and sustainable place,” she said.

The Mall is undergoing a number of maintenance projects, including the restoration of the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial that began in November 2010, with a targeted completion of the end of the year.

Lin said a time frame is unknown for when the Washington Monument will reopen after it shut down following an earthquake in August.

Billionaire investor David Rubenstein gave $7.5 million to the Trust for the National Mall last month to repair the monument’s earthquake damages, according to the trust’s website. Cunningham said that money was specifically designated for the monument.

The mall restoration projects will not affect the University-wide Commencement Ceremony held on the mall.

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