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52 No fare or a nominal fare is a positive factor for down- recognizing that circulator service needs to be highly town circulators. There are always tradeoffs involved differentiated from other transit services. Success can be with no fare, but they contribute to the simplicity of rid- measured quantitatively, based on ridership and produc- ing the circulator. tivity, but certain intangibles need to be included in the A stable, reliable funding source is ideal. Two pitfalls of definition of success. In Baltimore's case, the intangibles using general transit or city funds are: (1) circulator ser- include added confidence in downtown and the breadth vice is vulnerable to funding cuts in tight economic of support from elected officials, downtown interests, times, because most downtowns are well-served by and the transit agency. existing routes; and (2) circulators may be so politically CTTRANSIT began operation of a downtown circulator popular that other, more vital service is cut first. in Hartford in September 2005. The market for the circu- An "If you build it, they will come" approach is not lator is clearly defined as tourists and visitors; the circu- realistic. A new circulator will not bring new customers lator is a single loop route 2.5 miles in length connecting to a struggling downtown. It is important to establish the convention center and the hotels. Important lessons realistic performance targets and to communicate these learned included the importance of defining the target to stakeholders at the outset. market, operating frequent service on a short route that Flexibility is important, especially given the changing connects major downtown destinations, branding of the role of downtown in many cities. Most respondents service and the buses for the tourist and visitor market, have changed their circulator in response to changes in obtaining buy-in from the transit union to allow for a spe- downtown. It is important to track changes to the down- cial selection of drivers that are trained as community town landscape and adjust service accordingly. ambassadors/visitor guides, no fare, and working with Maintenance issues are sometimes overlooked in the partners willing to lobby for the service. Success is mea- decision of what type of vehicles to use. Higher main- sured partly but not entirely on ridership, and the defini- tenance costs may be acceptable if an environmentally tion of success goes back to the reason for starting the friendly electric or hybrid vehicle is used; however, the service. The downtown circulator is an important sales agency needs to be aware of these costs when making tool for the Convention and Visitors Bureau and provides the decision. an advantage in competing for convention business. The city of Los Angeles DOT (LADOT) began opera- LESSONS LEARNED--CASE STUDIES tion of the Downtown DASH in 1985. Since that time, the downtown circulator system has grown to six week- Capital Metro in Austin, Texas, implemented a down- day and three weekend routes throughout downtown town shuttle, the `Dillo, in the 1970s. The `Dillo went Los Angeles. Coordination with other agencies is impor- through several transformations as an iconic part of tant in clarifying the role of the downtown circulator. downtown before being discontinued in 2009 owing to Obtaining feedback from various downtown interests budget issues (the only case study of a service no longer helps LADOT to understand its needs and plan service in existence). Part of its demise was the result of the effectively. Frequent service, clarity regarding the mar- impact of instituting a fare; if a fare is charged, it needs ket for Downtown DASH, ease of use, service quality, to be easy to understand and pay, and that may mean and a distinctive brand are essential to success. Review- different things for a young, tech-savvy market. Use of ing service performance on a regular cycle ensures that branded and comfortable vehicles is important. Plan- changes to the downtown landscape and neighboring ning for traffic flow and integration of the circulator areas are identified. LADOT views ridership as the best into the existing transit network, with anchor destina- indicator of success, especially given its diverse customer tions at either end of the route, helps to ensure success. base in downtown Los Angeles. Measures of success include the support of a wide group Transit Authority of River City (TARC) began opera- of stakeholders who wanted it to succeed and iconic tion of a downtown circulator in Louisville in 1987 as branding and marketing that enhanced the image of part of a revitalization plan for 4th Street, and in 1996 transit in Austin. Its discontinuation was a result of low replaced buses with trolleys on a downtown circulator ridership and duplication with other routes. route along Main and Market Streets. With support from Baltimore City DOT recently implemented the Charm art galleries and local businesses, TARC also operates City Circulator after three unsuccessful attempts to estab- trolleys on the first and last Friday of each month. The lish a downtown circulator over the past 20 years. Two downtown circulators provide greater exposure to tran- of the three planned routes began operation in 2010. The sit for community members who do not ride the bus. DOT emphasized simple, readily understandable routes, Appearances matter, both in terms of public reaction and even though this meant that all stakeholders were not the trolleys' contribution to a positive image of down- pleased. A stable, reliable funding source (a portion of town. This builds support for transit among key stake- the city parking tax) is essential; previous efforts showed holders. Frequent service (every 7 to 10 min on both that reliance on voluntary contributions does not work. routes) is necessary to attract riders. A dedicated lane or The DOT dedicated 5% of operating funds to marketing, signal priority to increase speeds would be desirable.