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Transportationby Mark Reutter6:00 amOct 30, 20140

Consultants assigned to study the Circulator, bike-share proposal

The free bus system’s operations and finances will be looked at. Board of Estimates also approves funds for a bike-share study and for Red Line utility work.

Above: A Circulator bus lays over at the north end of its route at Penn Station. (Mark Reutter)

The Board of Estimates yesterday awarded $265,000 to consultants to study the Charm City Circulator and the proposed bike-share program.

In addition, the board approved nearly $360,000 for engineering design work related to the Red Line light-rail project.

The operations and finances of the Circulator bus system – including “long-term financial operations alternatives” – will be examined by Louis Berger Water Services. The New Jersey-based company will be paid $130,141 for the review.

The financial health of the Circulator, which charges no fees to riders, has come under question by City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. He has suggested a $1 fee may be in order and is calling for a City Council hearing to look at the service.

The Circulator’s recent balance sheet has not been disclosed by the city officials.

The Brew wrote that the system is at a crossroads – popular with the public but limited by its reliance on city parking taxes and state and federal grants.

The Circulator has also come under criticism as a network used by tourists and downtown residents, while the rest of the city must rely on the often unreliable MTA bus system.

Another Bike-Share Review

Whitman, Requardt & Associates was handed $134,925 as part of its ongoing contract with the Transportation Department to look at the bike-share program and help update the city’s bicycle master plan.

A bike-share system serving mid-town neighborhoods and the Inner Harbor has been been under review – with various plans and vendors announced – since early 2011. Over time, the proposal has shrunk in size. Here is a recent iteration.

As part of the city’s share of costs of the proposed Red Line, the board approved $134,925 to consultants KCI/STV to evaluate how the 14-mile line will impact on the existing sewer, water and storm-drain lines.

Separately, the board awarded $213,448 to HAKS Engineers to coordinate the design of new conduits needed for the Red Line between the city Transportation Department and the MTA.

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