BUP Reports Record Ridership On Bethesda Circulator

A Bethesda Circulator shuttle in Woodmont Triangle (file photo)Monthly ridership on the Bethesda Circulator surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April and increased again in May.

Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, reported the numbers in a regular email to subscribers on Thursday.

The 30,484 riders in April were an 18 percent increase compared to April 2013. The 31,043 riders in May were a 10 percent increase compared to May 2013.

The free shuttle is operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership and hits 19 stops stretching from Woodmont Triangle to Bethesda Avenue, with stops in and around the Bethesda Metro station in between.

In 2006, BUP took over operation of the Bethesda Trolley as Ride On planned to shut it down. In 2011, BUP switched out the old-school trolleys for sleek, modern Circulator buses similar to the vehicles in downtown D.C.

Expansion of the service is a possibility, according to BUP officials, though there are no imminent plans. Any expansion would of course depend on funding. BUP gets a majority of its funding through Bethesda’s Parking Lot District — the parking fees paid at Montgomery County meters in the Central Business District.

Much could depend on any new recommendations in the upcoming Bethesda Downtown Plan. The last master plan for downtown Bethesda, written in 1994, outlined the idea of a shuttle to transport people around various spots downtown.

Earlier this year, BUP put out a survey about the Circulator.

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