Yesterday, DC launched two new Circulator routes. One connects Woodley Park, Columbia Heights, and McPherson Square Metros with the neighborhoods along Columbia Road and 14th Street, while the other runs from Union Station to Eastern Market and then to the Navy Yard and ballpark.

In honor of this new service, here is a Metro map that includes the Circulator routes.


Click to enlarge and see full map.


DC could make a map like this and post it widely, including in Metro stations, on bus stops, and in tourist brochures. Right now, most visitors to DC visualize the city using the Metro map. That gives them a good idea of the location of Gallery Place and the Smithsonian, but leaves out Georgetown, Adams Morgan (except for the name tacked onto Woodley Park), Logan Circle, and many other destinations. Nor does it help tourists reach most of the important museums and memorials.

We can shape visitors’ perceptions of DC geography to include the places they need to know, and encourage more transit use, by widely disseminating an image of our geography that spans more of the city.

This map clearly shows how the K Street Circulator has too many stops. Plus, more of the stops ought to be on the same street in both directions. Mixing some local lines and some very limited-stop lines could create confusion as well. Users accustomed to the frequently-stopping K Street line might be surprised by the very limited-stop 14th Street service. We should brand the new lines with something like Circulator Limited, and add a K Street Limited alongside the K Street Stopping Every Block Local.

Finally, now that Circulator has four lines, do we need to start using colors or identifying letters on the buses and stops? More people will start to fall into the trap of the tourists I encountered who waited for the Georgetown Circulator, expecting it to go to the Mall. Maybe it’s time for “Circulator Orange” or “Circulator D Line”.

Have you ridden the new Circulators?

Update: I’ve added the H Street shuttle and the Georgetown Metro Connection, which both also run every 10 minutes and are targeted at least partly at non-commuters. Thanks to Paul S. for the suggestion. I also made a few minor tweaks based on comments.

Update 2: Here’s a PDF version for those of you who’d like to print this out.

Update 3, April 4: I’ve modified the map based on your many great comments. The new version now appears here. Here’s the original.

We've just launched our brand new website and are working out some kinks. Find something that looks like a bug? Please help out by sending us an email with the details!

Tagged: circulator, dc, maps, wmata

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.