D.C.'s Tourmobile has a monopoly on the National Mall

The Tourmobile, with the road to itself. (Photo: thesheep23/Flickr)

The Tourmobile — that blue, open-air bus which meanders around the city — has been aggressively trying to keep its stranglehold on the National Mall transportation market, blocking out supposed competitors (the Circulator, pedicabs, Capital Bikeshare) despite being in questionable legal standing.


Owned by Universal Studios, Tourmobile has an exclusive contract with the National Park Service that allows the company the right of first refusal, but, as the City Paper's Lydia DePillis reports, "Nothing in the language of the contract actually precludes the Park Service from allowing different forms of transportation on the Mall, interpretive or otherwise." In other words, Tourmobile gets first dibs, but can't shut others out. And according to one lawyer, the contract may not even be legal because, for the past three years, the contract has been extended without competitive bidding, which is required by law.

For now, if you want to get around the Mall inexpensively, you have no choice but to walk. (The Tourmobile costs $32.) But we dream of the day, near or far in the future, when all wheeled vehicles will live together in peace and harmony on this hallowed, sacred ground that we all blog about so passionately.

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