Housing Complex

Tourmobile, Au Revoir, For Reals: Service Ending October 31

We knew this was happening, in the wake of revelations about Tourmobile's illegally extended contract, but now we have a date: The company held a meeting with its employees on September 1 telling them that the last day of service would be on October 31.

UPDATE, Monday, 7:45 a.m. - For anyone reading this later, a further thought: The timing of this announcement is actually somewhat odd. Tourmobile's contract and ensuing extensions ran between January 1 and December 31 of each year. If they had figured the company had a right to the rest of the contract for this year, I can't think of a reason why they'd force the company to cease operations two months early.

Additionally, since no further solicitation has been issued, this leaves the Mall without a sanctioned tour operator for the foreseeable future—they'll have to issue a new solicitation, vet the bids that come in, and award a concession, all of which takes time. So much for a smooth transition.

Finally, the news came only days after the release of the Park Service's new guiding document, "A Call to Action," which lays out an impressive vision of creativity, innovation, flexibility, and partnerships with non-profit groups and local government. Perhaps the Park Service found that the continued operation of Tourmobile didn't quite square with that philosophy.

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The termination letter is below.

  • T

    Sad to see those employees lose their jobs, but this is GREAT news for DC! Any new service will also create jobs, and more importantly, will be able to provide more affordable and convenient transit around the mall for visitors and locals.

    Fantastic reporting Lydia!

  • Awesome

    You should be so proud of yourself! The dozens of families who just lost a source of income in a tough economy and you can barely hide your glee! Maybe the WCP can hire some of the drivers on as bloggers and staff writers?

  • housediggity

    is it possible to buy an old tourmobile? it would make a great diner.

  • Sally

    @Awesome: Always sucks when a monopoly dies. But consumers ultimately benefit. After all, how are all those Ma Bell employees doing?

  • Jes’ sayin’

    Maybe this will mean that tourists will be able to use a Circulator or some other bus to get from Point A to Point B on the Mall without having to pay 30 bucks for the Tourmobile.

    It's terribly sad to see people lose their jobs, but the Tourmobile was an anachronism and a giant pain in the butt.

  • giani
  • danmac

    Thanks for this information.
    From the Call to Action

    "E X PA N D the use of parks as places for healthy outdoor recreation that contributes to people’s physical, mental, and social well-being."
    probably a stretch but childrens playground in some urban parks would provide the above .

    and number
    4 from national call to action NPS
    "Improve urban residents’ knowledge of and access to outdoor and cultural experiences close to home by ensuring that every national park located in an urban area has a well-promoted physical connection to the public transportation system or to a pedestrian/bicycle path"

    This is probably a stretch but a cabi station on the National Mall would promote connection of some of the public to the Mall
    The document calls for innovative and creative thinking so why not

  • Jes’ sayin’

    As for the October 31st closing, one might assume the Tourmobile makes its money from the middle of March thru the end of October, and runs at a loss in the winter months.

    And there's probably a 60 or 90 day termination clause.

    So if the NPS told them it's adios at the end of the year, Tourmobile might have decided to reap the profits and cut the losses and turn out the lights on Halloween.

  • Olivia

    For you woefully uniformed people celebrating the demise of Tourmobile and hoping for the "more affordable" Circulator, I am pleased to inform readers that the Circulator is 100 percent funded by tax dollars while the Tourmobile was privately-owned and cost taxpayers zero dollars to operate. In the end, if the Circulator operates around the Mall it will cost everyone, not just visitors who want to tour, about $9 million per year according to their own proposal. That sure sounds inexpensive to me.

  • Begla

    Does this mean the Park Police will stop tasing pedicabbers? Because, frankly, that's kind of the bigger deal when it comes to transporation-related issues on the Mall.

  • T

    @Olivia: How exactly can a bus with a >$0 fare be "100 percent funded by tax dollars?" I think there may be something a little "off" in your math...

  • Devoe

    @ Olivia - how do you know my uniform is woeful?

  • styglan1

    I dont think @Olivia has been reading much of Lydia's reporting on this the last few years. Methinks she should go back and re-read why the Tourmobile contract was bad.

  • Pingback: The end of Tourmobile | DC-ON.us

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps the tourmobile operators will be learning to drive pedicabs.

  • Hillman

    National Park Service does a horrible job managing resources in DC when it comes to neighborhoods.

    Their refusal to allow dog parks is pretty much inexcusable.

    And they are quite selective about what laws Park Police enforce. They are Johnny-On-The-Spot to enforce dogs off leash, but residents can call until they are blue in the face to report homeless people defacating and shooting up in the parks overnight, and somehow Park Police can't find the time to actually do anything about it.

    I've had Park Police personnel actually tell me that there were no homeless people in any NPS lands in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

    This, after I emailed them photos to the contrary.

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