In a bid to increase efficiency, the District of Columbia Circulator will expand its routes, accompanied by a 50 percent fare hike for SmarTrip card users. The additions are accompanied by reductions in Circulator service that particularly affect residents in the Georgetown neighborhood, eliminating service to Union Station from Wisconsin Avenue north of M Street.

Starting in fiscal year 2015, the Circulator will add two new routes: one will tour the National Mall, including the Tidal Basin and Union Station, while the other will connect National Cathedral to McPherson Square. Other changes extend the Rosslyn-Georgetown-Dupont route to U Street and Howard University, which would connect all five Metrorail lines, and the Navy Yard-Union Station route to Eastern Market. By 2024, D.C. Circulator hopes to double the number of bus routes.

To offset the increased cost of the routes, the proposed changes are expected to increase the $1 flat fare to $1.50 for riders using a SmarTrip card and 2 dollars for people paying in cash, higher than Metrobus’ cash fare of $1.75. Another public comment period and hearing on these proposed modifications will precede the implementation of the changes.

After a report released earlier this year concluded that wait times exceeded 15 minutes roughly 20 percent of the time, the demand to increase efficiency led to the creation of Phase I, the D.C. Department of Transportation’s 10-year plan to reduce wait time to 10 minutes by expanding available routes.

“There is already a lot of excitement about some of the routes we are expanding and adding. Right now we are currently in a phase of answering questions of anticipation — when routes will be running — which is dependent on the next steps of receiving public comments and then how quickly we can implement [the plan],” DDOT Project Manager Circe Torruellas said.

Calvin Millien (COL ’16) was undeterred by the price hike.

“At the end of the day, if the Circulator can get me to where I need to go, I’ll take it regardless of the price change,” Millien said.

Pointing to the inconvenience of the change in routes, Kobby Adu-Diawuo (COL ’17), who used the Circulator to commute to his summer internship, was less enthusiastic.

“While the additional routes to the National Cathedral and Mall are great, now that I’m a Georgetown student, the combination of the price and the inconvenience outweigh the benefits of the Circulator,” Adu-Diawuo said.

Sam Wolter (SFS ’16) said that while the price increase was inconvenient, the new routes would be a positive addition.

“I’d be disappointed if the price went up, if there is in an increase in options, especially ones such as the National Mall, I wouldn’t mind too much,” he said. “At the same time though, one of the big rulers of the Circulator is the $1 flat price, you know what to expect. It would take out the convenience.”

Created in 2005 to complement the existing Metrobus and Metrorail systems, the Circulator operates under a public-private partnership between the D.C. Department of Transportation, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, D.C. Surface Transit and the private company First Transit. In 2013, the five routes of the service include 49 buses and carried 5.6 million passengers.

“D.C. Circulator has always been at the forefront of transit innovation and is now recognized throughout the region,” DDOT Acting Director Matthew T. Brown said in a statement.

The DDOT will hold an open house for comment from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Pinstripes located at 1064 Wisconsin Ave. NW and allow comments on its website starting on Nov. 7.

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