Circulator expansion plan worries Metro transit union

There's a growing feud between WMATA's union and the D.C. government, and at the center of the dispute is the city's effort to expand its own routes on the city's Circulator bus service.

In parts of the District, Circulators run essentially the same routes as the Metrobus. But there is a slight difference - while Metrobus fares are set at $1.65, Circulator buses only cost $1 to ride.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents 11,000 Metro drivers and other WMATA employees, is growing increasingly alarmed by the expansion of the Circulator system. According to the city's website "[DDOT] is exploring the potential of privatizing the District's non-regional bus service."

The Circulator is operated as a public-private partnership in the city, with DDOT, WMATA and a third agency, DC Surface Transit.

Jackie Jeter, with ATM Union Local 689, says privatization would result in the loss of jobs. She says that as many as 200 union members would be affected.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Mary Cheh, who heads the city's transportation committee, says the worries are premature.

"I don't think that's anything to fear," Cheh said. "I think it will make better service, I think it means more efficient service, and I think the jobs we have and the routes we cover will be even."

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