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The Math That Explains the Struggles of Local Buses

The D.C. Circulator is struggling with maintenance costs and system performance. The balkanization of local bus systems in the region might be to blame.
July 9, 2017, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Washington D.C. Bus
F Delventhal

Dan Malouf explains the effects of the balkanization, or fragmentation, of bus systems in the Washington, D.C. region.

So, there are "more than 20 separate bus providers in the Washington area. WMATA is the largest and covers the most territory, but most counties and large cities have their own," according to Malouf. "DC has Circulator, Montgomery has Ride On, Arlington has ART, etceteras."

It's the financial woes of the D.C. Circulator, reported by Martin Di Caro in May, that inspires Malouf's explanation. In fact, writes Malouf, the "situation suggests some of the thinking behind balkanization of the Washington region's bus network may be faulty."

The bulk of Malouf's analysis drills down on the inadequacies of how local bus operators measure the costs of operation. While the WMATA's Metrobus costs $142 per hour to operate, Fairfax County Connector runs at $104 an hour, ART runs at $72 an hour, and the DC Circulator runs at $83 an hour. However, as Malouf notes in detail, if the math looks too good to be true, it probably is. 

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Published on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 in Greater Greater Washington
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