Our story starts on a cold and winter morning several community advocates representing all corners of the ward met to discuss a circulator route that would serve and connect Wards 7 and 8. Those individuals were Robin Marlin, Greg Stewart, Ralph Chittams, Kristal Wortham, and Chris Jerry. These individuals were then joined by Kelsi Bracmort and I. We attended Circulator meeting after meeting after meeting with a consistent message of 1) we want a circulator route and 2) this is the route that we want.
After it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere, Kelsi and I shared the message with a larger audience on Greater Greater Washington. For the last year all the aforementioned individuals joined by another Ward 7 transportation advocate, Neha Bhat, continued to fight and lobby. At the Ward 7 Transportation Summit & Listening Tour, the group shared the message with then Chair of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Councilmember Wells. In addition we shared the message with the current Committee Chair, Mary Cheh.
Even though Ward 7 advocates aren't happy with the final route, we've all pledged to do our part to ensure its success.... BUT... fast forward to October 3rd....
On Monday October 3rd, Circulator service started with a grand opening and inaugural ride. A community member noted that transportation advocates, such as Chris Jerry, were noticeable absent from the event. The long and short is none of the people involved knew about it.
Chris' email is below in response to Ms. Jeri Washington's public acknowledgement of Robin, Ralph, Greg, and Chris.
Thanks for the props Jeri. I was just one voice.
I too also want to thank Veronica, Kelsi, and Neha, for all their efforts. Also thanks to Butch Hopkins, James Bunn, and Dionne Brown, to name a few, and others whom I don't know of, from Ward 8, who also have worked many hours to see a East of the River route get started.
Last, but not least, CM Tommy Wells when he got on Transportation committee, that sped up a Circulator route to come on this side of the Anacostia. The route as is now, is not what most of us wanted...in fact I am not sure anyone is totally in love with the route, but it is a start. We need connectivity between 7 & 8, we already have several Metrobus and Metrorail routes to get us east and west of the Anacostia.
I wouldn't be me if I didn't on occasion get my digs in, and so to that end, as I mention Tommy Wells, it is interesting to hear and read about our east of the river politicians who now almost break their arms to pat themselves on the back for "bringing a Circulator route east of the river". I can remember 2 1/2 years ago when Robin Marlin, Greg Stewart, Ralph Chittams, Kristal Wortham, and myself, met on a snowy Saturday morning at 10am at the Francis Gregory Library to have our first grassroots meeting of our Ward 7 ad hoc efforts to get a Circulator East of the River. That same day both Kwame Brown and Yvette Alexander made comments over at the Hillcrest [Rec] that were NOT in support of a Circulator on this side of the Anacostia. Council Chair Gray, said he didn't see anyone riding it and so he didn't know why anyone wanted it over here. I am not an insider, so perhaps there was something going on politically behind doors that I didn't know, but what I do know, based on conversations on the record and off the record, that our east of the river politicians were NOT on the bandwagon to get a route on this side of the river.
And that all may have been true at various times...
So to those politicians, please move on....and don't take any more credit for something that I truly believe is from a lot of meetings and testimony of grassroots citizens who kept urging. If you want credit for Circulator related stuff from this point forward, find money to make it a reality where the Circulator truly circulates people between business and retail locations between Ward 7 and Ward 8. Find a way to use the Circulator to connect "downtown Ward 7" (Benning and Minnesota) with "downtown Ward 8" (Good Hope and MLK) with a stop half way between the two places at the busiest DC government service center East of the River, the DMV at Penn Branch Shopping Center.
To quote CM Marion Barry at last nights Ward 8 public re-districting meeting, When Tommy Wells told him he was happy that people in Ward 7 and 8 can now use the Circulator to come to Ward 6 and shop at Harris Teeter, Barry said he told Wells, "No we need folks in 6 to come to 8 to shop and do business east of the river"
Vice President, Fairlawn Citizens Association
Transportation and Publicity Committees
*emphasis added. To that end, I echo Chris' sentiment. Transportation advocates in both Wards 7 & 8 want a north to south route. Please find the funding.