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Welcome to November, and the post-Tourmobile era! Well, sort of.
Although the operations of Landmark Services Tourmobile Inc. officially go kaput today, you probably haven’t seen the end of those little blue trams. Why? Because in its solicitation for a temporary operator—-responses due this Friday!—-the National Park Service says that it “may provide” the ten 85-seaters and five 110-seaters that Tourmobile has just abandoned. The solicitation also prevents the new concessionaire, who’ll only operate for a term of three years, from making improvements to Park Service facilities.
Although the draft contract for “interpretive” transportation looks very similar to Tourmobile’s in that and in other ways, the big difference comes in this phrase: “The Concessioner’s authority to provide visitor services under the terms of this Contract is non-exclusive.” Meaning: No squeezing out others that want to ferry people around the Mall, which was the biggest problem with Tourmobile anyway.
That three-year period will give the Park Service and potential new partners some time to think through what comes next for Mall transportation—-which could potentially include the Circulator bus, as the Downtown Business Improvement District has long envisioned. At the end of September, the District Department of Transportation advised the Park Service that it didn’t have the “contractual capacity” to compete for the service this year, but that it’s interested in taking on the Mall upon renewal of its own contract in 2013.
Change is coming, slowly.