Free Circulator Rides, Job Programs in Jeopardy After Council Vote

May 15, 2019

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The D.C. city council Tuesday approved a 2020 budget that would end free rides on the Circulator later this year and cut funding for job programs like Project Empowerment.

The $15.5 billion budget, which Mayor Muriel Bowser has criticized for slashing funding in several key areas, is required to be voted on a second time later this month.

Bowser said last week a council committee pointed out there wasn’t proof that the free rides improved traffic in the city. But in a tweet, Bowser said the free rides helped ridership increase six percent in February and 20 percent in March.

(Related: Proposed D.C. Budget Would Cut Funding for Job Programs)

In April, more than 150,000 people rode the Circulator, a 37 percent increase from the same month in 2018, Bowser said. The free rides could end Oct. 1 under the current proposal.

If the proposed budget is implemented, more than $17 million in funding for job programs would also be slashed. Project Empowerment, which helps previously-incarcerated residents gain access to jobs, is among them.

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