We reported last week that the Wisconsin Avenue portion of the Circulator route was in peril, and it appears the worst has come to pass: The District Department of Transportation announced that the cut was a done deal.
According to a DDOT press release, widely circulated (and cursed) on local listservs, the new route will take effect Sunday, October 4. In addition to eliminating service on the stretch of Wisconsin Avenue north of M Street on the Georgetown-Union Station line, the Smithsonian-National Mall Loop is going to be discontinued during the fall and winter months. Service on that route will resume on April 3, 2010.
In the press release, DDOT Director Gabe Klein describes the motivation for the cuts thusly:
We regret having to make any cuts in service. It was not a decision we took lightly and the reductions were targeted to affect the fewest riders and produce the greatest savings. At the same time, when we took a closer look at our service, we were able to find some ways – within our budget constraints – to make improvements that will make the Circulator easier to ride for many of our passengers.
In an e-mail to a Georgetown resident who had complained about the cut, DDOT’s Jeff Marootian further elaborated on the rationale behind the move (his full e-mail is included after the jump):
Passenger counts previously conducted along this portion of the Circulator route showed approximately 30 individuals traveling on the Circulator north of M Street on Wisconsin Avenue in both directions between 7am and noon daily. This translates to nearly 70 daily passengers if extrapolated to an all-day count; or about 17,000 passengers on an annual basis.
Given that the Union Station-Georgetown route carries about 2 million passengers annually, cutting the Whitehaven Extension is expected to affect less than 2% of the riders on this route while saving 3 buses or 15% of the operating cost for the east-west route. These daily trips could easily be absorbed by service provided on the 30s Metrobus routes.
According to Georgetown Metropolitan, given the recent cuts that were made to the 30 Series, the Circulator change means there will be an overall 70 percent service cut on Wisconsin Avenue.
Read Marootian’s full email after the jump!
Read the rest of this entry »