ANC6D Commissioners Blast DDOT and Mayor on No Circulator for SW
Commissioners Cite Lack of SW Parking, Retail, Access to Capitol Hill
by Larry Janezich
Monday night, an angry ANC6D sent a message to the DC Department of Transportation and to the Mayor that they were fed up with empty promises of Circulator Service to the ANC’s neighborhoods west of South Capitol in SW Washington.
Commissioners had invited Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT Associate Director of Policy, Planning & Sustainability to update the ANC on when Circulator Service would be extended to SW Washington. They were not happy to hear Zimbabwe stand-in Steve Strauss, Deputy Associate Director of the Progressive Transportation , tell them that maybe the Union Station/Navy Yard Circulator could be extended to SW in the spring of 2017. He said that although the intent had been to use some of the 18 new Circulator buses ordered last year to expand the Navy Yard route into SW as well as the Georgetown to Union Station route, those buses are needed to replace the aging buses in the current fleet. The next bus order will be placed in the late spring of 2016, with delivery a year later.
One of the most outspoken commissioners was Rhonda Hamilton, who tore into Strauss: “This is disappointing. We’re living here and can’t get out of SW – there is no parking – there are two subway stops to Eastern Market. You’re not getting the message. You have been promising, promising, promising. The Circulator has been coming for five years. When are we getting the Circulator in SW?”
Ward Six Mayor’s representative Seth Shapiro elicited from Strauss that two buses would be necessary to expand the Navy Yard route into SW, but Strauss said he could not speculate on whether the needs of SW would outweigh the needs of the Georgetown route in terms of allocation of resources.
Commissioner Andy Litsky told Shapiro that there is a dearth of retail in SW and “we want to shop on Capitol Hill. If the city wants us to spend money in the city, the Mayor needs to provide a way for that to happen – otherwise, we’ll go to Virginia. Take this back to the Mayor, ‘This is bunk, and it needs to be fixed.’”
ANC6D Chair Roger Moffet told Strauss that his presentation was “bogus – you’re not telling us what we asked you here for. At what point will you give us an answer?”
Strauss replied that he thought DDOT would have an answer by fall. Moffet told him that the ANC would meet next on September 21, and invited him back to that meeting to provide an update. Strauss said, “It might be October.”
Circulator, promising when launched because it promised pickups every ten minutes, has become less predictable, causing frustration among riders. CHC timed Navy Yard – Union Station Circulator bus arrivals at a Barracks Row location on Wednesday, July 8, and found that in the 7:30am – 8:5am time interval, buses arrived at: 7:30am, 7:41am, 7:52am, 8:02am, 8:08am, 8:12am, 8:26am, 8:33am, and 8:51am. For riders with smart phones, a live map showing the current location of each bus on the Union Station – Navy Yard route provides diversion while you wait. See here: http://circulatormap.com/map/union-station-navy-yard