D.C. Council bill would keep the Circulator bus free

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A D.C. councilmember proposed legislation that would keep Circulator fares free

After D.C. councilmembers shot down Mayor Muriel Bowser’s efforts to make Circulator bus rides free, the D.C. Council may consider waiving fares once more.

Ward 4 councilmember Brandon Todd, introduced legislation earlier this month that would keep Circulator fares free, DCist reported. Councilmembers ultimately excluded the Bowser’s program from the 2020 budget, citing a need to investigate whether the free bus fare was the best use of the $3.1 million the program cost.

“It would increase ridership and reduce traffic congestion, address climate change by reducing the number of cars on the road, move us toward our VisionZero goals and ease the financial strain that transportation can impose on low-income households,” Todd told DCist.

Todd’s legislation would also request that the District Department of Transportation expand Circulator service to all eight wards. The Circulator currently operates primarily in downtown neighborhoods, like Foggy Bottom and Georgetown.

The Council has referred the bill to the committee on transportation and the environment, which is chaired by law professor and Ward 3 councilmember Mary Cheh. Cheh led an effort to reverse Bowser’s decision to waive circulator fares last month.

Bowser has said she supports Todd’s efforts to keep her free transportation initiative alive, arguing that even a small bus fare prevents some residents from accessing transportation.

“It’s true: for some, the $1 fare is nominal; for many others, though—especially for our most vulnerable neighbors—it is prohibitive. The benefits of free public transportation are many,” she said in a statement released Monday. “The Council should seize this opportunity to set a new bar for public transportation, both here in D.C. and in cities across the nation.”

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