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The Charm City Circulator, the free shuttle bus service inaugurated by Mayor of Christmas Past Sheila Dixon as one of her last acts in office, has exceeded the city's ridership expectations, a city official reports.

Barry Robinson, transit and marine chief in the Department of Transportation, said ridership on the Circulator's initial route has grown from about 1,200 a day when it began service to 1,500-1,700 a day nine weeks later.

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"It's doing great," says Robinson. "The ridership has overshot the estimates we had."

Robinson said he expects further growth on the east-west Orange Route, which runs from Hollins Market to Harbor East/Corned Beef Row, as the weather gets warmer and tourist traffic picks up.

Robinson said the remaining two routes will be launched in mid-spring to early summer as the city takes delivery of more of its clean-energy buses.

He said the city has not determined which of those lines will begin service first -- the Purple Route between Federal Hill and Penn Station or the Green Route connecting Johns Hopkins Hospital, Fells Point, Harbor East and City Hall.

When those two routes begin service, the opportunities to use public transit to reach locations in downtown and nearby city neighborhoods wiill expand dramatically -- especially for those willing to make creative connections using light rail, Metro and water taxi.

When those routes are up and running, creative minds ought to get together and organize some transit-oriented, weekend afternoon pub crawls taking in such neighborhoods as Mount Washington, Hampden, Fells Point, Harbor East, Market Place, the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, Hollins Market, Canton and Locust Point. Highlandtown and Greektown will have to wait for the Red Line -- if it's ever built.

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