Greater Greater Washington


Don't forget about buses

Mayor Gray's budget puts serious money behind building the streetcar, but makes little mention of bus service. The mayor has demonstrated a clear and very welcome commitment to transit; to truly achieve his goals of boosting transit ridership, DC needs to improve its bus service as well.

Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.

The streetcar is not for every neighborhood

Streetcars have advantages over buses. They also have costs, including financial ones: streetcars cost more than buses. Streetcars also can't deviate around double-parked delivery vans or reroute to another road because of construction.

Other cities' experiences have shown that streetcars do attract more "choice riders," people who might not otherwise take transit, and also attract people and businesses to a corridor in a way that buses don't. Because of their economic development power, we should be able to pay much of the cost out of the extra taxes from the development we get from streetcars, and/or through direct "value capture" programs that make those who benefit economically pay some of the cost.

Still, streetcars aren't going to be especially fast. They will often be slower than buses. And in many parts of DC, where economic development isn't the goal and capacity isn't the problem, building a streetcar isn't always the answer. What we can, and must, do is make buses a more appealing mode of transit.

We need a great "frequent bus network" as well

Imagine if you could walk to certain spots in any neighborhood, wait in a comfortable location with real-time screens, and know that within a short time, a vehicle would come take you along one of several high-capacity routes that lead to other adjacent neighborhoods and across the city.

Metrorail does that now. Some of the limited-stop Circulators and Metrobus Express routes do as well. We can gain a lot of mobility for residents by adding to the number of high-frequency routes, making them even more frequent, and helping residents know about the routes by publishing "frequent network" maps that cover both the Circulator and certain Metrobus routes.

These routes all would come often enough, including nights and weekends, and run late enough that people who live nearby could choose not to own cars, use the routes (or bike or walk) for most trips, and have backup options like Zipcar, car2go, Uber, and taxis when necessary.

Where should DC invest in bus?

DC can expand and improve its frequent bus network in two ways: create new frequent routes, and make existing frequent routes faster.

New routes can be Metrobus routes or Circulator as long as they run frequently, 7 days a week, and late into the evening. Last year, a panel of residents, business leaders, and officials created a Circulator plan which lays out places for several of these routes.

Proposed Circulator expansion.   Phase 1   Phase 2 Phase 3

Most immediately, the plan suggests extending the Dupont-Rosslyn Circulator to U Street. There's no good, direct transit right now between U Street and Dupont, and it also would create a direct link between U Street and Georgetown.

Beyond adding routes, DC can speed up existing routes. There are many spots where buses spend a lot of time in traffic. In places, buses are frequent enough that they could get their own lane, at least at peak times. WMATA and DDOT have been collaborating on a study of bus lanes on H and I Streets past the White House.

Buses using H and I (and K), plus traffic counts. Image from WMATA.

Elsewhere, maybe a short "queue jumper" lane would help buses bypass a tough spot. Or retiming signals could help buses spend less time waiting for a turn. Or buses could get signal priority to hold yellow lights long enough for them to pass.

When the Circulator turns left from Connecticut onto Calvert after leaving the Woodley Park Metro, it has to make a tough left turn, and WMATA bus planners have said this is a reason they don't send the 90s buses to Woodley Park. Could this intersection give buses a short, special phase to go right from the curb to Calvert?

We don't have a lot of studies or analyses of where the buses get most delayed. This hasn't received a lot of attention from DDOT in recent years. Mary Cheh tried to put money in the budget for DDOT to work on bus projects or have staff focusing on bus priority, but nothing has really happened yet.

It's long past time to get moving on buses. Mayor Gray has set an ambitious goal that 50% of trips take transit by 2032. Building streetcars will help DC get there, but streetcars are one piece of the transit puzzle. Buses are the other biggest piece. For many neighborhoods and many corridors, they are the right piece, as long as we work hard to make them desirable options, as they can be.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 


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I wouldn't extend the Georgetown-Dupont ciculator. Rather, run another line on the other side of the Circle from Dupont to U st.

I agree it is a curious lacuna, but traffic gets jammed up into and out of the circle.

What happened with the TIGER bus priority grants?

by charlie on Apr 4, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport


Maybe if we had congestion pricing downtown for SOVs, our buses would move a lot more people, a lot more rapidly.

One can dream!

by Nick on Apr 4, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

I've been riding the bus semi-regularly since I first moved into the city in 2006, and I've noticed ridership growing and getting more varied. People seem to perceive the bus as fairly safe and reliable (though both vary) on the routes I've ridden--G2, G8, P6, L2, 90/92, 96, 70 and P6.

I agree that the city should invest more in buses, but one thing that they could do that might not cost much is making it easier for users to understand the different routes. Buses can be faster and more efficient than metro, but in my experience a lot of what holds people back is that the system seems intimidating and complicated. Crowding & wildly varying arrival times are also an issue, but a more expensive one.

Metro has really improved the signage in the train system, and there's no reason to think that they could do the same for the bus system.

by Erin Bush on Apr 4, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

Even on some of the existing corridor service, there are some areas to look at addressing. For the 30s Wisconsin corridor (31/32/36), there are problems in both directions. On the southbound Friendship to 24th and Penn (where the 31 diversdes), I can't tell you how many times I see bunching of buses on this segment. On the northbound portion of this segment, the 30s start over in southeast and often get delayed over there resulting in awful delays and bunching all the way over on Wisconsin. Should a shorter corridor (Tenley to Foggy Bottom) be prioritized to create better service?

by GP Steve on Apr 4, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

I think it comes down to ridership density. A bus can comfortably hold about 50 people. A street car can hold at least a couple of hundred. Where you have corridors that are moving thousands of people during rush hour streetcars will make a lot of sense. They may be faster than buses too since you lose time loading and unloading congested buses through two doors. Where you are maybing moving 500 an hour buses will probably be superior, because they can efficiently do more frequent service. Streetcars are modular so you can ramp up capacity on heavy corridors that buses would struggle to servce like 16th st.

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

I think this makes perfect sense. I also believe the lazer focus on bikes and streetcars over the past few years makes the lack of focus on buses (which we acknowledge will enable better E\W connections) expected. In some ways, it might have to do w/the perceived ridership which likely hasn't been mentioned as an issue for types of people we expect to monopolize streetcars and biking.

But yes, the city can do a much better job improving the bus connection all around the city. Hopefully they have plans for the X2.

by HogWash on Apr 4, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

Where you have corridors that are moving thousands of people during rush hour streetcars will make a lot of sense.

Among the current plans, are there many such corridors where 1000's of people are moved who might opt for the streetcars?

by HogWash on Apr 4, 2013 3:17 pm • linkreport

In addition to queue jumpers and bus lanes, what are some other improvements that should be considered? One suggestion that comes to mind is reducing the number of stops. For the 30s, in Glover Park we have 3 close stops (Calvert, Hall Pl, and W). Should there be some consolidation? Other segments similarly have one stop per block on M and on Penn.

One other problem I see is the number of people asking bus drivers questions that delay the departure of buses at a stop. Questions such as where do you turn, do you go to ??, and what route goes to ??. Do we need more bus maps? Could a corridor map display be created that doesn't require having a full bull shelter which not every area can support. Promoting smartphone routing tools can help with this for some segment of the population.

What are other items to consider?

by GP Steve on Apr 4, 2013 3:21 pm • linkreport

Seven or so bus lines carry over 10,000 people a weekday so I'd say yes. Many others carry upwards of 5000 a day so they could merit a slightly less frequent/shorter streetcar.

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

Among the current plans, are there many such corridors where 1000's of people are moved who might opt for the streetcars?

See the streetcar plan - those are basically the most heavily used routes:
14th St (50s)
H St-Benning (X routes)
Irving crosstown (H routes)
Georgia Ave (70s)

by MLD on Apr 4, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

Two words: More. Subway.

It's the only thing that can solve the congestion problem. The longer it takes for people to realize that, the less short- to medium-term growth we'll see in this city.

by gridlock on Apr 4, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

Based on WMATA statistics, the high ridership bus corridors would be Wisconsin, 16th St, 14th St, Georgia Avenue, U St-Florida-8th, Southern Ave-MLK Ave-M St - 7th, Benning Road-H St, and the general Penn. Ave axis. So I'd say the streetcar network conforms pretty well to current demand. Of course it may also decongest metro in some places and serve new areas.

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

@gridlock Isn't it really higher gas prices to encourage transit use and shorter commutes?

@MLD I would add 30s to that list. The 30s have more ridership than the H and about as many as most of the others according to a FY 11 ridership count I found.

by GP Steve on Apr 4, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

So I'd say the streetcar network conforms pretty well to current demand. Of course it may also decongest metro in some places and serve new areas.

It would be interesting to see how it all plays out during an actual rush hour. I imagine most people who depend on the buses during peaks times will opt for the more convenient option. At this point, its difficult to figure out which one that is.

by HogWash on Apr 4, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

I imagine the streetcars will replace some buses where they would be redundant and the buses would be used to serve other areas that will be more appropriate with less dense ridership.

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

Which might be why WMATA doesnt seem to have any new buses in the budget.

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

I know dedicated bus lanes are mentioned in this post, but I think it deserves top billing. There seems to be a lot of hesitation in just doing it already. 16th Street, 14th Street, Wis Ave, Georgia Ave, etc. all desperately need dedicated bus lanes during rush hour going south in the morning, north in the evening. I just don't understand all this tip-toeing around the subject, and why we seem to try everything else except for what is obvious. There is no reason why one person in a car gets the same priority as a bus full of people. We should be moving people not cars! (I sound like a broken record. Sigh.)

by dc denizen on Apr 4, 2013 4:06 pm • linkreport

Which might be why WMATA doesnt seem to have any new buses in the budget.

Err they are buying a bunch of new buses every year for the foreseeable future.

by MLD on Apr 4, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

You're right about the budget. I read it as indicating they were only replacing and rehabilitating buses rather than expanding the fleet. Still, 45 expansion buses between now and FY19 is a pretty modest growth in the fleet of ~3% over 7 years for the entire region.

I more or less stand by my point that they are relying on being able to redistribute some buses around due to the Silver Line and street cars in the near future.

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 4:50 pm • linkreport

@dc denizen You are correct that it should be about moving people not vehicles. Unfortunately drivers are considered to have significant political weight when it comes to removing driving lanes or parking spaces. Why is it that we've not been able to pedestrianize any streets downtown (as far as I know) even on weekends? Europe has been able to do this, but the political stigma against closing any lanes / roads is solidly in place.

by GP Steve on Apr 4, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

I just don't understand all this tip-toeing around the subject, and why we seem to try everything else except for what is obvious. There is no reason why one person in a car gets the same priority as a bus full of people.

Here! Here! I totally agree w/dedicated bus lanes. But I wonder how well it will work considering the number of lanes removed exclusively for bikes.

by HogWash on Apr 4, 2013 5:01 pm • linkreport

There are 1,500 miles of road (many with multiple lanes) in DC and 56 mile of bike lanes. I'm sure they'll manage somehow...

by Alan B. on Apr 4, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

Amazing the lack of premium/frequent bus penetration into Ward 5.

Wonder how much of this stems from poor ward leadership in the recent past (i.e., HTJ).

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Apr 4, 2013 5:13 pm • linkreport

I would love it if they pedestrianized some roads. They've done it NYC and even LA but not here, but it's about time. Make space for people, not cars.

I think the roads that have dedicated bike lanes, like 15th street don't have buses running on them. 16th street has sharrows but only on the part south of U street. Does Wisc. & Georgia, or even 14th have dedicated bike lanes? I don't think so. As Alan B. says I think we can share the road - cars, bikes, and buses. Bikes don't take up a lot of space; buses carry a lot of people. It's cars that are not - excuse my phrasing here - carrying their weight: They take up a lot of space and aren't carrying a lot of people.

by dc denizen on Apr 4, 2013 5:14 pm • linkreport

There are 1,500 miles of road (many with multiple lanes) in DC and 56 mile of bike lanes. I'm sure they'll manage somehow...

I thought we were discussing high-traffic corridors. Do we need 1500 miles of dedicated bus lanes? Can we put priority bus and bike lanes on them all?

by HogWash on Apr 4, 2013 5:18 pm • linkreport

45 expansion buses between now and FY19 is a pretty modest growth in the fleet of ~3% over 7 years

The main reason for this is that system safety, defined mostly as response to NTSB recommendations, has been prioritized over system expansion. This priority comes from elected officials and is not internal to Metro.

There is surely a safety penalty when buses are overcrowded and people are encouraged to drive, and perhaps it outweighs the safety gains from some NTSB recommendations. But that's not the current thinking. If you want more buses, Metro must either shift priorities or get more money -- either way, contact your elected officials.

by Ben Ross on Apr 4, 2013 5:27 pm • linkreport

A quick point about the bus network and its legibility. Metro released an updated version of the Metrobus maps late last year (covered by GGW). The new maps do a much better job at highlighting frequency and span of service, both key to the usefulness of bus and rail service. The maps include Metrobus, Metrorail, as well as local connecting transit systems such as the Circulator. The "Framework Service" Map on the back (or page 2) of each primary map provides a good regional picture of the array of frequent, all day transit service available today.

by Jonathan Parker on Apr 4, 2013 5:43 pm • linkreport

Buses good. Bikes good. Walking good. Streetcar = world class city.

by Catfish on Apr 4, 2013 5:43 pm • linkreport

Signal priority for buses would be fantastic!

by grumpy on Apr 4, 2013 6:33 pm • linkreport

this post is way too long, but has 8 elements for improving surface transportation in the city:

then there is the issue of planning the surface transit network at 3 levels long routes intra-city and regionally, intra city, and intra neighborhood.

I still haven't written my piece about intra neighborhood services for Ward 3.

The circulator concept is flawed for intraneighborhood bus service, at least at 10 minute headways, because few neighborhoods outside the core can cost justify that level of service.

the intraneighborhood services I propose in various writings are based on systems like the Tempe Orbit model.

by Richard Layman on Apr 4, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

I want to vote in the At Large special election for the candidate most likely to fund and build the Georgia Avenue streetcar. I'm not ashamed to admit that this line will benefit me greatly, but what the heck? Why shouldn't I vote my interests? For whom should I cast my vote?

by David G. on Apr 4, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

(I meant my cited post is way too long, not yours.)

by Richard Layman on Apr 4, 2013 7:31 pm • linkreport

David G. -- I've only been to a meet and greet with one candidate. I doubt any of them have transit on their radar. It's education, jobs and affordable housing. I kept stressing transit and transit as the city's major ec. dev. priority. Even though one of the other attendees is a WMATA Board member, people weren't really clued into it. Then again, it's outer W4, which is more car dependent.

(I'm still likely to vote for Matthew Frumin anyway, but that's for a blog entry.)

by Richard Layman on Apr 4, 2013 7:34 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman

I'm inclined to vote for Patrick Mara, frankly. I like the fact that he doesn't own a car. It suggests to me that he understands the importance of public transportation. Am I being silly?

by David G. on Apr 4, 2013 7:50 pm • linkreport

To get back to @charlie's point about Dupont Circle, I wonder if it would be better for the GTown-Dupont-UStreet Circulator to bypass Dupont Circle itself... maybe use 20th Street and Q/R Streets to shuttle between New Hampshire on both sides of the Circle.

(So, a bus traveling from Georgetown to U Street could turn left on 20th from NH Avenue, right on Q, and then left on any of the next 5 northbound streets to U Street; return on R, and turn left on 20th to return to New Hampshire south of the Circle. It could have a stop in both directions at the Metro entrance at 20th and Q)

It's just too bad M Street is one-way between Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.. I'd kill for a contraflow bus and bike lane on that stretch.

by Steven Harrell on Apr 4, 2013 11:36 pm • linkreport

@Steven Harrel; I've thought about that. However, from 20th to q is also usually a mess during rush hours. You could have a stop on NH near 20th that would serve Dupont South.

by charlie on Apr 5, 2013 7:30 am • linkreport

I'd take buses in dedicated lanes over tracks in mixed traffic ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Forget the novelty of "I'm on a train", I'd like to not sit in traffic. Dedicated lanes is where the (quite limited) available money should be spent, not laying steel and building train maintenance facilities.

Articulated buses in dedicated lanes with heated, fully covered stations, pre-purchased tickets, and level boarding...check

Articulated buses in dedicated lanes with only sheltered boarding...still better

Regular diesel-hybrid buses in dedicated lanes with side-shelters only

Yellow school buses in dedicated lanes...with your old school bullies on them...STILL better than mixed traffic solutions.

I don't get the fascination of spending so much money to lay track in mixed traffic on very busy thoroughfares.

by stevek_fairfax on Apr 5, 2013 7:53 am • linkreport

David G. -- I get what you say about Patrick, but at the end of the day I think he is a Republican, and I don't think he would be the kind of transit proponent that we need--transit being evil collectivism and all that (even if he doesn't make those arguments). He doesn't have anything on his website about transit.

Silverman's site does have a brief section on transportation and does mention specifically funding Metro and improving bus service.

Frumin's site and platform has a big plank on investing in infrastructure, which I should have mentioned in my previous comment. He doesn't talk about WMATA but I think he can be made to understand its foundational importance to the city.

(It's interesting that all three candidates seem to use the same campaign electioneering website software.)

Perry Redd's website does not list transportation as an issue either.

by Richard Layman on Apr 5, 2013 8:51 am • linkreport

stevek_fairfax -- a point (not a criticism), basically what you're talking about is the basis of the proposals in MoCo for BRT. The problem with long distance bus service like that is the likely low ridership as transit works best in shorter distance travel.

But definitely in DC, I see how dedicated transitways on 16th St. and Georgia Avenue (and other streets) make a lot of sense, given the amount of ridership on those streets.

And in the core of the city we need some too, as David first raised a few years ago, and continues to do so.

Even Connecticut Ave. could make sense, it's wide enough. Except that in the part of CT. Ave. without subway service, north of Van Ness, it's unclear that there is the kind of potential ridership that would justify the service. Except maybe to Van Ness station from some point north, maybe even into MoCo, but the problem is that MoCo is not particularly dense in that section of the County.

by Richard Layman on Apr 5, 2013 8:55 am • linkreport

The other thing about the general post, with the subhead "the streetcar is not for every neighborhood," is that this is the basis of my points/writing/presentations on "metropolitan mass transit planning."

It lays out three networks, the metropolitan scale, the suburban transit network, and the center city transit network, with subnetworks for both the suburban and center city networks.

The three proposed subnetworks in DC provide for transit service at all levels.

In my definition streetcars are part of the center city primary transit network, so of course then you need to provide transit service for the secondary and tertiary scales.

And then as some of these discussions have raised, parts of the city, like Ward 3, aren't necessarily served adequately by the way transit is set up to work in general.

I would hope that the DDOT transpo master planning process would put into place this kind of hierarchy and way of planning, LOQ metrics, etc. for transit planning. Not sure if they will.

by Richard Layman on Apr 5, 2013 9:04 am • linkreport

Can we keep the politics out of this?

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

(Although it seems as if the expansion wants Circulator to become more of an intra-city bus system rather than what it started as)

You also have to leveage the private bus networks. For example, could you run a Circulator down Flordia to take over the Howard Shuttle? There many be enough off-peak demand to make it more viable.

The only lessons learned is a cheaper (simpler) fare, nicer buses, and routes that people actually use can turn bus service around.

by charlie on Apr 5, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport

I agree that high-capacity bus service is a good alternative to streetcars. Getting more 60-foot/accordion buses will serve more riders, and implementation is simple. Signal priority -- even if just at key choke points -- would also help. (I nominate 16th St. at I and K for signal priority or re-timing; during the evening rush, it often takes several light cycles for northbound buses to get through here.)

When it comes to the perception of streetcars as being preferable to buses, you're dealing with both riders' and business owners' perceptions. Some research suggests that businesses are more willing to invest in corridors served by streetcars. When it comes to riders, though, DC residents at this point in time seem perfectly happy to ride the bus as long as it's reliable, safe, and not agonizingly slow. For medium-capacity routes where streetcars aren't on the horizon, longer buses and improved speed will make it possible to serve more riders, including new residents and those who wouldn't ride under current conditions.

by Liz on Apr 5, 2013 9:06 am • linkreport


All of your arguments would apply to a streetcar in a dedicated lane as well. Though, with the streetcar, you get vastly increased capacity, a smoother ride, less upkeep, and more development to boot.

by Kyle-W on Apr 5, 2013 9:29 am • linkreport

WRT to Columbia Pike, VDOT basically refused to consider anything that took away a traffic lane for cars. So then you're either stuck with the same bus service or the capacity/ride advantages of a streetcar.

But even if VDOT was all about taking away a lane it'd still be better to have rail service.

by drumz on Apr 5, 2013 9:48 am • linkreport

The only lessons learned is a cheaper (simpler) fare, nicer buses, and routes that people actually use can turn bus service around.

I guess those are the lessons if you just want to make things up and not look at the facts. What the facts show is that if local transportation officials want to create bus service to supplement what a larger organization is doing they can do so. DC recently started doing this but Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria have been doing it for longer. The Circulators are not more heavily used than WMATA buses - the K St route gets around 6-8K riders per day, 14th St-AdMo gets 4-5K, Dupont-Rosslyn 2-3K, and the others under 2K. The buses are starting to show their age and are no longer nicer than the new low-floor buses WMATA is buying, and the low fare means that the fare recovery is worse than WMATA's bus service. It is cheaper to operate though because it is contracted.

by MLD on Apr 5, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

I have thought this for a long time too. I live along a historic streetcar line off of Rhode Island avenue that was replaced by bus lines years ago. But I take the bus to the metro every day and the buses run SO frequently it is not an inconvenience at all. I rarely have to wait at all. If I have to wait 5 minutes I get annoyed.

The bus gets such a stigma and I am sure this deters people from moving more than a mile from the metro, such as where I live (Mt Rainier/Woodridge/Michigan Park, etc). But better branding efforts could really go a long way toward resolving that.

by Ginevra123 on Apr 5, 2013 10:08 am • linkreport

"the system seems intimidating and complicated": I usually ride Metrobus five days a week, but I find that sample map of H, I, and K streets intimidating and complicated. I would probably have to study it for 15 minutes to figure out which buses go where and which one I want to ride. Metro could use not only more high-capacity routes but more that go kind of straight from one place to another. The buses I ride typically make several turns per mile and remind me of those Family Circus cartoons with Billy making countless detours when he runs an errand.

by Steve D on Apr 5, 2013 10:16 am • linkreport

I think in order to make the buses work we need to revamp the entire network and get rid of all existing routes and start from scratch.

Ruotes that twist and turn make it hard for the casual users as well as act as a barrier for people to start using the system.

A couple of years ago I was in San Francisco and I hopped on and off multiple busses without ever looking at a map. As best as I could tell every major street had a bus that went straight up and down that street. I think if we had busses running on every State street and every 4 blocks on the letters and numbers that would be great, that would be perfect.

We have a grid for most of the city, lets take advantage of that.

by nathaniel on Apr 5, 2013 10:25 am • linkreport

I think in order to make the buses work we need to revamp the entire network and get rid of all existing routes and start from scratch.

Indeed, I think lots of transit agencies could benefit from doing a complete analysis of their routes from the ground up. This exercise would start with the question "we provide X amount of service (vehicle miles or hours), what if we took that and a blank map of the city with new routes?"

Many of the existing routes would stay the same obviously, as they are successful because they are simple and connect places people want to go. But in many places too much of the transit service is just the same routes from 50 years ago that have been pruned or rerouted many times and not looked at comprehensively.

by MLD on Apr 5, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

We don't have a lot of studies or analyses of where the buses get most delayed.

Try this:

Study Identifies "Hot Spots" For Bus Delays, Makes Recommendations to Improve On-Time Performance

by recyclist on Apr 5, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

I think WMATA has done reasonably well with the grid as it exists except for some of the feeder routes. You can thank L'Enfant for most of the awkward twists and turns. The streets are a grid, but the main avenues are usually diagonal which means the most efficient routes aren't usually invole some turns.

by Alan B. on Apr 5, 2013 11:33 am • linkreport

The 6-Year Capital Plan for WMATA has normal replacement buses every year with no fleet expansion. The last 3 years have a total of $36 million for a very modest fleet expansion.

by Steve Strauss on Apr 5, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

"We don't have a lot of studies or analyses of where the buses get most delayed."

A study submitted to the Transportation Planning Board last year--jointly funded by WMATA, DDOT, MDOT, and VDOT--did just that. Here's the link to the study:

by Jonathan Parker on Apr 5, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

I'd rather see more rail. Buses are way too unpredictable.(well, lately so is Metrorail) Plus it's much more pleasant to wait in an enclosed station.

by Chris S. on Apr 5, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

@Chris S. We all agree with you that it's more pleasant. However, it is unfortunately very difficult to build more rail. Look at how long it took to get the rail to Dulles. They had planned to do that for many decades, but it's just happening.

Buses can be made more predictable if bus priority, bus lanes, route changes, etc are implemented. Additionally, the time to implement and cost are much shorter and lower for these changes vs building a heavy rail station. Therefore, many people on this site favor bus improvements.

by GP Steve on Apr 5, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

How about first starting by having all DC Circulator routes run until the same damn time all year round. Having some end at 7pm, 9pm and others go until 12am is is a kick in the face for that one city BS.

When it comes to Metrobus the system needs to be done over. Start with all main streets add routes that follow them. Have those routes run until 1am daily then have routes that branch off or cross them to cover other parts of the city; that way everyone is atleast within wlaking distance of a bus that runs late into the night. Right now in some parts of DC you would have to walk for miles to find a bus that is running after 10pm I have done it before and over the decades since I have lived here bus service has actually gotten worst.

When looking at the Circulators one main complaint i hear is with the Union Station route ending at 9pm; it would be fine if they gave you solutions on how to get to places via other buses after that time but they dont.

The Navy Yard route replaced a Metrobus route the N22 which was better in all ways possible the routing, scheduling, stops and more.

@ Chris S

I would rather see rail only if it fills in the gaps that are all over the city (Upper Northwest west and east of the Red Line) Gergia Ave north of Petworth, areas east of the train tracks in NE/NW DC. If the majority of new stations are places where there are stations already nearby (most of the separate Blue Line routing) I would rather have bus or streetcar. If the line is serving areas not served by Metrorail now than yes.

I would also prefer an actually subway not a hybrid system like we have now as it does not meet the needs of the residents of DC

by kk on Apr 5, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

@Richard Layman

You should look at the MoCo BRT plan and its projected ridership:

The Route 355 South corridor (Friendship Heights-Rockville) is slated to have 46,000 daily riders by 2040, while the Route 29 corridor would have about 17,000 riders. It already carries about 10,000 riders today on Metrobus, Ride On and MTA commuter buses, which is comparable to some Metrobus routes in DC. That's why they can justify dedicated lanes, though many places (including most of 29 south of White Oak) won't have them even when the riders are there.

by dan reed! on Apr 7, 2013 12:23 am • linkreport

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Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


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