By Beth Hall
The Circuit is a ride-sharing service in Southwest and a small area in nearby Navy Yard. The 9 electronic vehicles have been quite busy since the initiation of the service in June by the Southwest BID and DC Central Kitchen. Demand is highest in the evening with popular destinations including Safeway, the Wharf and L’Enfant Plaza station. Game days also see an increase in use.
Fares are now anticipated to be implemented in mid October. Rides will be $2. There is a Ridewell pro- gram for those receiving local and federal assistance. If qualified, rides will continue to be free.
The Circuit vehicle trip numbers have been increasing every month. The service started in June. In July, they made 4,607 rides carrying 6,128 passengers. That increased in August to 5,155 rides with 6,167 passengers. At press time in September (9/27), they had made 5,478 rides with 7,004 passengers and expect to exceed 8,200 passengers. These include calls made from the app and rides where the buggy was hailed. There is a phone number that can be used to request rides but, to date, that has been infrequently used.
The Circuit intends to continue operating through the winter although inclement weather will affect service. They pause during heavy rain and battery life is negatively affected by cold weather. Wait times will probably increase.
The circuit is now operating with a full complement of drivers. 21 drivers are on board. 20 of these drivers are DC residents and several live here in SW. Each receives 4 days of training.
Complaints to date have been infrequent but present. Frustration with the uncertainty of the wait time has been frequently cited (riders should expect to wait at least 10 minutes). Users must share rides which increases wait and trip time. Children have also been an issue. Riders under 18 must be with an adult and rider-provided car seats are required for children under six.
According to Anthony Jackson, Market Manager for the Circuit company, people can come to 800 Maine Ave Ave, 2nd Floor and ask for him to communicate concerns, make comments and also get help installing or using the app.
All in all, the Circuit is fulfilling its purpose of providing an alternative to driving and parking here in SW.