DC’s first Mobility Innovation District (The MID), has officially launched its Circuit Rideshare public transit program for Southwest DC and parts of the Navy Yard neighborhood.
“Ideas and problem-solving are the brand here,” said Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) Executive Director Steve Moore.
A $3 million grant from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to SWBID supported the creation of the MID.
WHAT’S A MID?
Launched in October 2022, the MID is part on the ground transit laboratory, growing transit system and technological partnership. It is designed to attract mobility companies that present innovative technological solutions to improve transit and increase economic development in the area.
At the time, Bowser announced that micro-transit company Circuit was selected to create a new mobility service for residents and visitors that will circle the Southwest neighborhood. The goal of the service is to draw people to the area and make it easier for them to move around.
The MID’s Circuit Rideshare program uses a fleet of eight electric vehicles (EVs) and advanced transit technology to offer safe, accessible, efficient, and eco-friendly rides to users within the Southwest neighborhood.
The routes are officially launching now, four years after the original proposal for the MID. The MID was stalled and then plans were reworked after the COVID pandemic to move away from the use of self-driving buses. The Circuit rideshare fulfills many aspects of the vision, for instance providing a fixed route linking the metro to The Wharf. Free rides will be operated along a fixed “Buzzard Point Circuit” between Southwest Waterfront Metro Station and the headquarters of route sponsor DC Central Kitchen, with a stop on P Street SW. Riders can just hop on and off along the route from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
But there is also an on-demand rideshare service that can be requested via the Circuit app, which operates similarly to Uber or Lyft. The service will do pick up and drop off within the MID zone, indicated as a highlighted area on the app; you simply enter pick-up and drop-off addresses and the number of riders and one of eight Circuit vehicles will be assigned to the ride; a vehicle is supposed to arrive within ten minutes. Until the end of July, rides are free; after that, they will cost $2. Service animals are allowed, and riders can select a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
ADDRESSING A GAP
The service helps address a transit gap in an area of extremely high demand. The on-demand zone is bound roughly by Independence Avenue to the north; 15th Street SW and waterfront to the west; Q Street SW to the south; and South Capitol Street to the east – with the extension into Capitol Riverfront/near SE service area from M to New Jersey Ave SE to I Street SW. At the 2022 launch event, District officials said depending on the success of the program, there is a possibility of expansion into Navy Yard or Anacostia.
The MID zone includes The Wharf, Audi Field, and the new Rubell Museum, linking the south side of the National Mall with Southwest. It does not, however, serve the residential areas of Buzzard Point, instead offering pick up and drop off only along Second Street SW as far south as The Point restaurant, along the Anacostia Riverwalk.
COMMUNITY EVENTS & ACTIVATIONS
To celebrate the launch of the Circuit Rideshare program, the SWBID will host a bunch of community events over the next few weeks. These events will showcase features of the Circuit Rideshare service and provide an opportunity for residents to experience benefits firsthand while having fun.
Wednesday, June 28 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.: Good Morning Guessing Game at L’Enfant Plaza (at the intersection of Maryland Ave SW and 7th Street) Guess the number of balloons in the car to win 10 free rides.
Friday, July 7, 5 to 9 p.m. Truck Touch at The Lot (4th & M Street SW across from the Waterfront metro station during Market SW)
Saturday, July 8, 12 to 2 p.m.: Parade! Route begins at The Wharf and then continues to the Southwest Library (300 I St SW) and King-Greenleaf Recreation Center (201 N Street SW)
BUT THERE’S MORE
The original MID proposal called for a more complex route to run through the neighborhoods that privileged trips to places like grocery stores and cater to the needs of older and aging riders. While no vehicles are dedicated to this purpose, the MID has launched a new program, Circuit RideWell, to provide affordable, accessible, and easy-to-use transportation solutions to underserved communities. Residents who receive benefits from certain state or federal assistance programs can get a promo code that will make trips on the on-demand system free. The MID says the program aims to provide greater access to employment opportunities, healthcare services, and community resources.
But the MID isn’t done yet. One key pillar of the MID is the idea of a technology testbed to demonstrate new tech and business models that can catalyze economic development. Accompanying increased parking and public transportation, the MID is intended to be a hot spot for things like electric vehicle infrastructure, including EV Charging, electric transit buses and micro-mobility solutions. The MID also issued a now-closed call for projects to develop a mobility wallet intended to support the deployment of a universal basic mobility program. The MID is also in the process of securing a partner to assist with distributing funds for A UBM pilot, recognizing that residents across income spectrums could use assistance in finding potential transportation solutions and planning the best solution for a trip.
Hours of Operation for the Circuit Buzzard Point Fixed Route (roadmap can be found here):
- Daily 6:30 AM – 9:30 AM; 3 PM – 6 PM
Hours of Operation for Circuit RideShare (service area can be found here):
- Monday – Thursday, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- Friday, 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM
- Saturday, 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
- Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
For more information about the Mobility Innovation District and the Circuit Rideshare program, please visit dcmid.io. Download the app for FREE rides through the end of July (afterward, prices are a flat $2 fee).