City Cast

Local Civics: The transit debate comes to a vote. Efficient or free?

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on June 5
K Street Design final rendering. (D.C. Department of Transportation)

K Street Design final rendering. (D.C. Department of Transportation)

The time has come for D.C. Council to settle the debate that has taken over local transit politics for weeks — fix K Street, or make buses free. City Cast DC's newest member Susannah Brown is here to break it down.

Mayor Bowser has been a staunch advocate for the K Street Transitway project for years. Back in 2019, the city allocated $122 million to make the downtown area more efficient and safer. The plan includes a car-free bus lane and new tree-lined traffic islands to aid pedestrians. It originally included a two-way protected bike lane that has been killed in the final design.

However, Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen want to pause the K Street project and put those funds towards fare-free buses.

Some argue that the benefits of the K Street Transitway are more immediately evident, citing safety, traffic solutions, and a revitalization of downtown D.C.

Others point out that many people riding the bus tend to have significantly lower incomes than the general population, which makes the free bus proposal a question of equity.

We’ll know more on Tuesday when D.C. Council holds its first vote on the proposed $19.7 billion fiscal 2024 budget.

Have a strong opinion on this transit feud? Let your councilmember know! Find out who your representatives are here.

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