The D.C. Circulator will remain free through the end of September after Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District Department of Transportation extended the fare suspension Monday.
Bowser said in a release that she hopes the free access will encourage more riders to use the service while public transportation officials continue to brainstorm ways to attract passengers to return after the COVID-19 pandemic flattened ridership numbers and service levels. Bowser invested $6.5 million in her fiscal year 2022 budget proposal to keep the Circulator free, according to the release.
“Today, more residents, commuters and visitors are traveling in and around the District, and it is essential that they have as many safe, accessible and affordable public transportation options as possible,” Bowser said in the release. “Keeping the D.C. Circulator free as long as possible is a crucial part of meeting that objective.”
The mayor’s budget proposal would also fund the purchase of electric charging stations for the fleet of buses, the release states.
Last week, the D.C. Council blocked the mayor’s proposal to extend free Circulator rides, and lawmakers said tourists and wealthy neighborhoods would benefit most from the free rides. Council members said they were not opposed to free fares but want to ensure that the initiative would benefit those who need it most.
Bowser implemented the extension as “emergency rulemaking” after the Council’s objection.