The circulator, a successor of previous unsuccessful attempts of free downtown transit is a great success but it has run some red numbers lately, in spite of the original assumption to have sustainable funding from a parking tax surcharge.
A consultant evaluated the success of the service and found that the purple line was most successful and the orange and green lines less so. As Kirby Fowler in a report about the Circulator recently explained, the Purple Line has the simplest and clearest alignment and most of its service is near the garages that fund it. The much more complicated green line is the results of sponsors.
The Banner route was funded by a limited grant and had been scheduled all along to end after the bicentennial celebrations were completed.
Many neighborhood activists have suspicions about the Circulator as a "yuppy toy" that avoids poor neighborhoods. That is not entirely correct as Jamie Kendricks who was instrumental in implementing the service at his time at DOT will attest. Great pain was taken to serve the Hollins Market area and later also areas in Middle East. The ridership, indeed, appears to be well integrated. But if the Orange and Green services will get curtailed, diminished by shortening the runs or longer headways, it will certainly feed into that narrative, especially when at the same time the Purple Line gets a northern extension to Hopkins.
On the other hand, the bus should not draw from the general fund on a regular base and return to its original premise of sustainable funding from parking fees and benefitting sponsors.
|Charm City Circulator, second generation bus|
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
See Sun article