Saturday, March 18, 2006

New Bus Service Around the Mall

The DC Circulator, the alternative bus service to Metrobus, is adding a third route around the National Mall.

The Circulator buses will operate a continuous loop on the streets bordering the Mall, stopping at each of the Smithsonian museums as well as the two National Gallery buildings. Like the two current Circulator routes -- one runs east-west and the other north-south -- the new loop's buses will run every five to 10 minutes and cost $1 a ride, making the fare the cheapest public transportation available downtown. Metrobus is $1.25; Metrorail is $1.35.

The new route will officially begin Tuesday, just days before the March 25 start of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which District officials predict will draw about 1 million people to the city. The Circulator plans to begin providing public service on the new route today as a test.
This seems to me like a useful service, since my impression has always been that the Circulator is designed to appeal more to tourists and locals visiting the museums and monuments than to tourists. The bus routes that do criss-cross the Mall do not seem to be particularly well-designed for the casual visitor, but instead serve people passing through on their ways to work. And the Tourmobile complaints cited in the article are irrelevant; people should not be forced to pay $20 to get a ride from one spot on the Mall to another.

Unfortunately a map of the new route is not yet available. I will keep an eye out for it and post it when it comes online.