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Free neighborhood shuttle could save DC money

Residents and workers in Southwest Waterfront want to restore a discontinued free shuttle bus, the Shuttle-Bug, that operated between G and M streets SW from Sixth Street to slightly past Third Street.

Image from SWTLQTC.

The Shuttle-Bug connected thousands of residents in that area, including people with low incomes and older adults, to the Safeway, CVS, and Waterfront Metro station. While it is easy to recognize the social benefits of such a service, there are economic benefits as well for DC in reducing dependency on MetroAccess and even fixed route bus service.

According to the Post, Shuttle-Bug operated for 18 months "as a way to offset the hardship that construction posed to pedestrians." Now that the construction is complete, city officials contend that the need for the service no longer exits.

However, designers of the shuttle service from the Southwest Action Team (SWAT) have a different memory. They state that the service was developed and funded as a neighborhood crime mitigation measure. They recall that prior to Shuttle-Bug's creation, several community residents were assaulted, robbed, and, in one case, murdered along their walk to the Metro station. MPD Assistant Chief of Police, Diane Groomes, wrote a letter of support to continue the Shuttle-Bug program citing the safety benefits.

According to the Post article, a survey conducted by students of George Mason University "found that one-third of participants said they took the shuttle for safety reasons" and that "twenty-five percent said they had difficulty walking, and nearly two-thirds said they do not own a car or do not drive." Consequently, designers of the Shuttle-Bug service believe that the service addressed unmet community needs.

In addition, the Arena Stage, which was closed during the Shuttle-Bug's period of operation, will re-open in October 2010. Arena Stage patrons who take Metro will need safe, reliable transportation from the Metro to Arena Stage and back again. Consequently, staff at Arena Stage also drafted a letter of support to continue the Shuttle-Bug service.

Shuttle-Bug ran on a fixed-route basis, complete with bus stop signs. If a rider with disabilities wanted a special drop-off that was safe, the driver would accommodate the request provided the drop-off was on the route.

Shuttle-Bug served the morning peak from 7-10 am, the evening peak starting at 4 pm, weeknights for after-work grocery shoppers and people who attended Blues Night on Monday or Jazz Night on Friday, and a Tuesday/Friday 10:30 am to 1:30 pm service that ran on a slightly larger route to serve another building with a high percentage of older adults.

The average number of rides per day on Shuttle-Bug ranged from 98 to 165, and the total number of rides provided since the program's inception was 44,055. According to SWAT, fare revenues were unnecessary because the cost to collect, handle, and secure the small amount of fare revenue would exceed the value of the fares collected.

How Shuttle-Bug Could Save DC Money

Since about twenty-five percent of Shuttle-Bug riders expressed having difficulty walking, it is likely that at least twenty-five percent qualify for MetroAccess service. MetroAccess service costs on average $38 per ride, whereas the average operating cost per ride on Shuttle-Bug was $4.98.

Now that the Shuttle-Bug service no longer exists, it is likely that those individuals who qualify for MetroAccess who rode Shuttle-Bug will go back to using the more costly MetroAccess service. As we know, MetroAccess is subsidized by the WMATA Compact jurisdictions including the District of Columbia. Clearly, $4.98 per ride is a bargain when compared to $38.

Even when you compare Shuttle-Bug to traditional fixed-route bus service, the cost differentials are striking. The cost per hour to operate Shuttle-Bug was only $60.11 due to there being no overhead costs. The current cost for WMATA to provide fixed-route bus service is $102.41 per hour. (Note: I provide this comparison only to show how much it would cost if WMATA provided the Shuttle-Bug service, and not to suggest that regional bus service is the same as a community shuttle.)

Shuttle-Bug was funded through a public-private partnership, with Waterfront Associates, LLC (the developers of Waterfront Station) and Fairfield Residential (the owner/developer of the View at Waterfront) funding 70% and the District of Columbia funding the remaining 30%. SWAT is presently requesting that the District of Columbia fund the Shuttle-Bug program for an additional year while they seek diversified funding.

One possible strategy to diversify funding would be to ask area businesses that benefited from the service (Safeway, CVS, etc.) to contribute to the service. However, achieving a new public-private partnership would take both time and a demonstrated financial commitment from the District of Columbia.

Shuttle-Bug riders and community residents have already submitted over 500 signed testimonials to continue the shuttle service. According to SWAT, this represents ten percent of the 5,000 households in the target area served by Shuttle-Bug.

Shuttle-Bug is a less expensive option for the District of Columbia in this neighborhood compared with traditional MetroAccess and Metrobus services. Of course, some will argue that Metrobus and Metrorail customers should just walk the four or so blocks to the Waterfront Metro station. Nevertheless, the potential for significant paratransit cost savings for local governments makes Shuttle-Bug an alternative transportation model worthy of further exploration in our region and beyond.

Penny Everline has served on transportation advisory groups at the local, regional, and national levels including the WMATA Riders' Advisory Council, the Fairfax Area Disability Services Board Transportation Committee, the Transportation Planning Board's Access for All Advisory Committee, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) National Work Group. She recently left her job with Easter Seals Project ACTION, a national training and technical assistance center funded through the Federal Transit Administration, to focus on advocacy work at the local/regional level. She holds an MSW degree and teaches at George Mason University. 


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I get the convenience of the former shuttle to residents. But it all comes down to who pays for it. Why not see if there's interest for a new private venture to offer the service? Especially since the city's budget is in less than ideal shape?

But I don't get the argument that the Waterfront Metro is too far away. It's at 4th and M Streets. The Arena Stage is at 6th Street. It's one city block's distance (not really sure where 5th Street went). According to Google Maps pedometer, it's about two-tenths of a mile (roughly 1,000 feet) in distance.

I'd also hesitate to compare the safety situation pre-Waterfront Towers. There's a whole lot more activity in the area, especially with the swanky new Safeway and Starbucks, and the redevelopment of some of the apartment buildings in that general vicinity.

by Fritz on Jul 27, 2010 3:50 pm • linkreport

Regarding the trip from Waterfront to Arena stage, that's less than 1000 feet of walking. I would think that nearly all people that use metro can walk one single block. If they can't, I wouldn't suspect they would be able to use Metro anyway, as 1000 feet isn't too much more than the length of a train.

by Erik on Jul 27, 2010 3:54 pm • linkreport

FYI, here's a route map:

I agree that the walk to Arena Stage isn't much an issue, particularly from a safety element: this area is quickly becoming an area which, in the immediate vicinity of the Metro station, isn't terribly intimidating at night. Or if you think it is, I'd wager you can at least it's agree it's becoming less & less intimidating with every new development that comes online.

However, I'll credit Shuttle-Bug in that per that map, it seems to service a bit further out... I can agree with some of those destinations.

The map cites 20min peak & 30min off-peak headways. ...Kind of sounds a lot like a marshrutka to me. I love those... something I definitely think could catch on in some areas.

I do agree with Fritz in that keeping a public/private partnership in place could be something worth delving into... perhaps commercial contributions as well as contributions from the Ward, ANC, or other civic associations to help establish it as a local-oriented community asset.

Of course, a counter to that could be an argument that if local residents & businesses are fronted with the bill, in the long-term that could equate to wealthier neighborhoods getting more services whilst poorer neighborhoods get less. That's an argument I'll avoid for now.

by Bossi on Jul 27, 2010 4:41 pm • linkreport

If they want to pay for it, fine. However, it'd be insane to ask the rest of the city to pick up the tab. There are more urgent transit needs elsewhere.

by andrew on Jul 27, 2010 5:04 pm • linkreport

If, as you say, this service makes financial sense then shouldn't we have these types of shuttles all over the city?

by Steven Yates on Jul 27, 2010 5:23 pm • linkreport

It is to be hoped that MetroAccess' reputation will deter nearly all of the eligible riders who were recently abandoned by the shuttle from scheduling and taking those trips on MetroAccess instead.

by Turnip on Jul 27, 2010 7:22 pm • linkreport

Speaking as a resident of Southwest, I'd rather put the money towards Metro and the Circulator. We need to be connected to the rest of the city and the region more than we need to be connected to ourselves.

(That said, if it turns out that the Shuttle-Bug results in a net reduction in MetroAccess costs, especially if it saves more than the District's share of those costs, then we should probably run it. I'm doubtful that's true, but I'm open to being convinced.)

by cminus on Jul 27, 2010 7:43 pm • linkreport

Shuttle service and feeder service to the fixed route (especially rail) have been used by transit properties in other parts of the country as a strategy to reduce paratransit demand and, consequently, paratransit costs. For example, New Jersey Transit has feeder service to rail.

This isn't new thinking, though it is clearly somewhat new to the DC area. There is research/writing on feeder service in TCRP reports and on both feeder service and neighborhood shuttle services in reports by organizations that focus on accessible transportation issues like Easter Seals Project ACTION.

I've been told that WMATA has a feeder service plan in the works. The goals of such a service would be to increase fixed route ridership among MetroAccess customers while reducing paratransit demand/costs. I hope to learn more about WMATA's plan soon and to write a post about it for further discussion.

by Penny Everline on Jul 28, 2010 7:49 am • linkreport

I had an interesting conversation with someone that I work with whose background is more para-transit based then my fixed route background. He suggested that a hybrid service be developed where whenever a paratransit vehicle is scheduled to be in an area and it has available capacity, the extra capacity should be offered to non-paratransit customers. For example, let the house wife that needs to get to the grocery schedule a ride when it is available. The excessive per trip costs of para-transit are not the result of the actual operating costs, it is the result of the inefficient use of its capacity.

I believe that the next tool in the public transit tool box needs to be the creative use of 'hybrid' services. In other words, breaking out of the fixed route & para-transit molds. We need to develop the full range of flexibilities to meet the needs of the traveling public.

This shuttle bug service sounds like it is the type of creative thinking that will be needed.

The ultimate answer to MetroAccess and other para-transit services' woes is to find a way to serve as many of their passengers' needs through hybrid and fixed route service and reduce the need for much more expensive demand response service.

by Anonymous on Jul 28, 2010 9:19 am • linkreport

I never once saw a single person ride one of those buses (which ran right past my house). I'm sure people did, but I never saw it. I would love to know how many of the 500 people that signed the petition ever rode the bus.

As for the crime issue. The street crime rate in my neighborhood is probably among the lowest in the city. The "rash" of assaults that took place was such an anomaly that it drew the attention of the media and the highest levels of the police department.

In a perfect world and a city flush with funds, every neighborhood could have its own shuttle bus system. But in the real world of DC in 2010, there is no money.

by swresident on Jul 28, 2010 10:24 am • linkreport

If it 'could' save money, please show metro access numbers from before and during the shuttle operational period.

Also, the $38 number is for the entire metro-access system, including the less dense suburbs where metro operates outside the required 3/4mi radius.

While it 'could' in theory save money, please please provide real numbers and not speculation to back this up.

by m on Jul 28, 2010 11:32 am • linkreport

@m- The title of the post is "Free Metro Shuttle COULD Save DC Money," and "could" is used for a reason.

I do not have access to the list of MetroAccess customers that live in ShuttleBug's service area-- this is protected under HIPAA.

I do not have access to the number of rides MetroAccess provided in this service area prior to Shuttle-Bug service existance, during Shuttle-Bug service, and after Shuttle-Bug service ended; however, once those numbers are obtained, it would be easy to do the calculations. WMATA staff have access to this information, the District (or other jurisdictions, for that matter) could request it, and actual calculations of paratransit cost-avoidance (i.e., savings) could be done.

The comment by "Anonymous" gets to my point, which is services like Shuttle-Bug could help reduce paratransit costs in our area. I'd encourage WMATA and the jurisdictions to explore this further.

by Penny Everline on Jul 28, 2010 1:28 pm • linkreport

First off - completely agree with the first swresident. (S)He is spot on.

Penny, do you live in SW? Doubtful. To state that people would need a shuttle to Arena Stage from the Metro is like suggesting people need a shuttle to get from one Dupont Circle metro exit to the other. Devoting a paragraph trying to rationalize that really destroys any credibility. Even if you take a macroscopic view, looking at a map, the area around which the Shuttle Bug operated was approximately equal to the square block around the Washington Monument. Do we really need a shuttle around that small an area? Plus, how long is the average MetroAccess trip? Is it really just 0.6 miles, which is the distance apart between the two stops farthest from each other?

All this shuttle does is reinforce the fabricated need for vehicles taking us everywhere. Sometimes walking is OKAY. The safety argument holds no water either. Not only does increased foot traffic help deter crime to begin with, but if you look at DC crime maps, Southwest is comparatively better off than Chinatown, Adams Morgan, Dupont, etc. And finally, SWTLQTC has clearly documented that from the get-go it was a temporary service due to the construction, where sidewalks were closed and barriers were on streetcorners.

Also, please clarify your math regarding the cost benefit over MetroAcess. If I assume a maximum of 165 riders a day, with 25% of MetroAccess, a $60.11/hour operating cost, and 15 hours of operation (7am to 10pm) I would get this:

$60.11*15 / (165*0.25) = $21.86/ride

If you're doing a cost-benefit analysis like this, you can't use two different populations. It skews the results. When calculating the MetroAccess cost per ride you don't include the non-MetroAccess people who still move from place to place, but when calculating Shuttle Bug you chose to include them to offset the cost per ride. You can't do that.

Oh, and does the hourly cost of the Shuttle Bug include multiple vehicles for peak hours?

*end of frustrated rant*

by swresident#2 on Jul 29, 2010 2:52 pm • linkreport

Also, how can an "average number of rides per day" be a range of values? Either it ranged from 98 to 165, or the average was something in between.

by swresident#2 on Jul 29, 2010 2:59 pm • linkreport

swresident#2, welcome to Greater Greater Washington and thank you for posting your point of view. Here on GGW we have guidelines that ask commenters not to frame their comments as personalized attacks on other individuals.

By starting out with "you must not be a SW resident" and "this destroys your credibility" you are unnecessarily making your comment about Penny instead of her ideas. People who don't live in a neighborhood are welcome to weigh in on issues pertaining to it.

Penny has been a constant advocate for people who need assistance in mobility, some of whom live in SW. If you think her idea is wrong, please feel free to give your reasons, but you do not have to frame it as an attack on her.

Again, welcome and I look forward to hearing further thoughts from you on other issues (without the personal attack angle).

by David Alpert on Jul 29, 2010 6:17 pm • linkreport

Hi David,

Thanks for the comment and the welcome, although I'm actually not a new poster. I had taken a break from GGW for several months because I was frustrated with the way arguments for transit were being framed.

While I respect your opinion, I do not think that either of the comments you singled out are personal attacks. First, I never said "You must not be a SW resident." Second, I never associated her likely non-residence as a reason for her lack of credibility. I pointed out that her probable lack of familiarity led to her completely unreasonable claim that Arena Stage patrons might want to use a shuttle from the Metro. That unreasonable claim does, in large part, harm her credibility. I fail to see how that is a personal attack - it is strictly based on her reasoning contained in the piece itself. It passes no judgment on her residence, though I suspect it was the root cause. If you don't happen to see how unreasonable her claim is, I urge you to visit the Waterfront area for yourself.

It's this strict push for always more transit (as opposed to smarter transit) that made me leave in the first place. The side effect is that people who are unfamiliar with SW would think this is a legitimate argument, and reinforce the notion that those of us think this is a waste of DC resources are against smart growth (untrue). It leads to entrenched, unyielding values - which don't do anyone any good.

Quite incidentally, I had originally included a shoutout to you saying that I was disappointed in the quality of the article, but then decided to remove it since I figured I didn't need to waste your time with a petty complaint. But since you are here now, I will say that regardless of the author's history and previous contributions, this piece is simply not of the caliber that I had more often associated with the academic insights on GGW, and it deserved greater vetting.

To Penny - I'm sorry if I offended you, but that was not my intent. Your piece, while admirable in its motives, has a number of flaws that significantly misrepresent the situation. I don't think that's fair to anyone.

by swresident#2 on Jul 29, 2010 7:11 pm • linkreport

@swresident#2: I took no offense to your first post. Your second post is quite hostile. No hard feelings, though.

by Penny Everline on Jul 29, 2010 7:20 pm • linkreport

I am a SW reside in this area. I have used the bus and found it very safe and convenient. It is really a help to older and infirmed citizens. Despite the recent opening of 4th Street to M Street, the walk to the Metro or Safeway is not secure day or night in this area.

I believe this a a low cost solution for many residents of SW. I would be delighted if a solution could be found to continue this service.



by John/SW resident on Jul 29, 2010 8:48 pm • linkreport

SWresident#2: The Shuttle-Bug served many purposes from taking people to/from Metro to work, shopping at Safeway, CVS or banking. Students used it to go to Amidon and Jefferson, from Metro to jazz and blues and some Metro Access riders opted to use it. It was all purpose for everybody living in the area and visiting the area. It was well used given the 44,055 rides provided.

In reference to your blog, if you carry the logic through of 25% Metro Access eligible riders, (there is no data to confirm 25%) who rode the shuttle, the math would be as follows. The Shuttle-Bug's hours of operation were 10.2/day (not 15 as you stated), then the equivalent would be $14.25 per Metro Access eligible ride. Additionally, Metro Access has substantial overhead to cover operations administration, the call center etc.

The purpose of this article is to introduce transit alternatives that complement each other and fulfull unmet needs in communities. The Shuttle-Bug is one example.

by Steve & Beth on Jul 30, 2010 2:52 pm • linkreport

90-160 rides a day is not well utilized.

The problem with this is for me, an able bodied person, I can walk across the entire service area of the shuttle in less time than the average headway of the service.

The combination of circuitous routing and long headways is a bad one for a general audience. It's telling, for example, that Arena Stage offers a letter of support, but won't put any dollars behind that word.

The prospect for using this as an alternative form of paratransit, however, is quite intriguing and worthy of more study. Of course, to see an actual reduction in costs, we'd have to see a reduction in MetroAccess use in that area, as well - otherwise you're duplicating service and increasing costs, not reducing them.

by Alex B. on Jul 30, 2010 3:01 pm • linkreport

With this weather being as hot as it has been, the Shuttle-Bug has definitely been missed. I've a beathing disorder and has really been trying on my condition. I do hope those 44,000.00 advocate and try to send as many letters to the DC Council as possible to express the so needed service.

by Frances Wade on Jul 30, 2010 3:04 pm • linkreport

I thought you said you had a "beating disorder"; that would've explained that little crime wave awhile back :)

by Bossi on Jul 30, 2010 3:14 pm • linkreport

It is important to remember that many riders of the Shuttlebug have quite
a lot of distance to walk, especially those who live at the end of G Street.

The Shuttlebug provides an invaluable service to those who cannot get
around easily. A civilization can be judged by the care it takes of those
most vulnerable, and such a service creates a humane atmosphere of
caring in the neighborhood. To the argument that other areas would
want to have such a service, why not, I say? Maryland takes care of its
senior citizens by free bus service, many areas in our country do the same,
and why shouldn't we all have this at our disposal?

A Resident of Southwest

by Resident of Southwest on Jul 30, 2010 3:18 pm • linkreport

Apologies for the miscalculation! Actually, upon further review the Shuttle Bug operated for an average of 9.2 hours a day (8 hours 3x a week, 11 hours 2x a week). Regardless, the cost per ride is grossly undervalued.

The problem with this service is that it has largely just been a "convenience." The author's informal survey showed the vast majority of people riding the service use it because they don't drive - NOT because of an underlying health issue. What would these people be doing otherwise? Likely just walking. What's wrong with that?

And there's no proof that MetroAccess-eligible people who took the shuttle did it instead of MetroAccess. They could just as easily have been using it for convenience (i.e., it happened to be there, wanted to socialize with people on board). One could also surmise that they were using the shuttle for its intended use: to get around construction. After all, people in power scooters or wheelchairs would have difficulty navigating torn up or closed sidewalks. Now that the construction is FINISHED, they don't have that problem anymore. That's probably the most important point of all!

Also, it really saddens me that people think having a ride from Metro/Arena Stage or Metro/Jazz Night (basically the same distance) is defensible. Transit should be helping people move from places that are hard to get to. Transit should not be abetting laziness. This was always meant to be a temporary service. It created demand out of convenience - NOT out of need. "Quite a lot of distance to walk"? Really? A maximum distance that's only slightly longer than the length of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool? Please.

And before you all start bashing me, I should point out that I was born physically disabled too. I have more difficulties walking as a 20-something than many of the posters here will ever have. My opinions do not stem from a lack of understanding or heartlessness - I have had my fair share of time in and out of a wheelchair and learning to walk again to know what accessibility problems are like. I just see this as a complete waste of money. If someone can prove that the cost of Shuttle Bug is less than or equal to DC's share of MetroAccess savings, fine, then do it. But there is absolutely no evidence to support that, and we simply cannot afford to pay for this on one hand while we're firing teachers and cutting other *critical* services for budgetary reasons on the other hand. No way.

by swresident#2 on Jul 30, 2010 4:35 pm • linkreport

@swresident#2: I don't think anyone intends to "bash" you.

Technically, the survey was conducted by GMU students-- not me. Of course, that distinction doesn't matter much. Just thought I'd clarify.

by Penny Everline on Jul 30, 2010 4:51 pm • linkreport

I doubt that many of the opposing live in SW, because if they did they would know that G street SW..unit a long way from a metro bus stop and that these hard working people many now seniors and retired with medical problems are deprived of public transportation which is widely available to most district resident and it appears that it will continue as long as our elected councilpersons are insensitive to those in need.

by sw resident..unit block G st on Jul 30, 2010 11:04 pm • linkreport

I doubt that many of the opposing live in SW, because if they did they would know that G street SW..unit a long way from a metro bus stop

I'm inclined to oppose retaining the Shuttle-Bug, and I definitely live in Southwest. If there's a large enough population of seniors and disabled requiring paratransit services, and the Shuttle-Bug can serve them more cheaply than for what the District pays for its share of the MetroAccess service for that population, it might be worth keeping the shuttle. I'm inclined to doubt that, but I'm reserving judgment until we get some more concrete data.

But this is purely a paratransit issue. When considering whether to retain the Shuttle-Bug we should ignore any passengers who aren't eligible for MetroAccess, because the distances involved are meaningless to the general population. For example: from the circle at the east end of the unit block of G Street SW, it's three blocks to Amidon Elementary, which I believe has a stop for the P1/P2 and V7/V8/V9. Google Maps' walking directions estimate the trip at eight minutes. If you don't like those lines, or my map is out of date, it's four blocks to the 70/71 and Circulator stop at 7th and G, or four slightly longer blocks to the Waterfront Metro. I know those stops are current, having been to all of them within the past week. Three or four blocks is just not a distance that requires regular shuttle service.

by cminus on Jul 31, 2010 12:12 am • linkreport

SW is an area with a sizeable population aging in place. Existing Metro buses and the Circulator do not take people directly to the Metro or to the stores at the Mall. While there may be a lot more activity in the Mall area since nearby apartment buildings have been renovated and reopened and stores have relocated or are opening -- and while the reopened 4th Street between I and M streets may be well lit -- the fact remains that the area below the Mall that was served by the Shuttle-Bug continues to be poorly lit and to have few pedestrians, making it uncomfortable for many people to walk to the Metro or the Mall during the early morning or evening hours, hours when the Shuttle-Bug operated. Crime does continue to be a concern in the area; toting groceries continues to be a problem for the aged and the infirm. The number of riders on the Shuttle-Bug demonstrate the continuing need for this kind service, and Bug demonstrably served as a prototype for a transportation service that could be replicated in other areas of the city.

by SW Resident #4 on Jul 31, 2010 1:02 pm • linkreport

I am a SW resident who had the opportunity to see and join in on the advantages of the Shuttle Bug. Why you ask, I injuried my leg and was unable to walk on my own, but because of the shuttle that arrived in front of my building and in front of the Green Metro, I was saved and did not have to take leave. In addition to this small example, I was also able to observed several older people who rode the Shuttle at different hours of the day. Many of you may remember that the shuttle extended their hours on certain days of the week thus allowing access to the older population. We need to continue to support other economical conditions that fall below the economic bar, age restriction, and are not computer literate. We need to continue to take care of each other and stress importance on our older generation to take care and support them for transportation. These people can continue to hold their head up and maintain their self esteem. Please let's think of what we can do as a group of human beings concern and caring of others. "Together we are strong, this is an opportunity for us to use our God given voices". Let's continue the dialogue to develope other ideas and take our proper place in this society.

by B.Tillman on Jul 31, 2010 1:24 pm • linkreport

SWresident#2: I hesitated blogging and getting into the fray because it has become so hostile. You started off attacking Ms. Everline and ended up calling the Shuttle-Bug riders (people you have never met & don't know) lazy. It's easy to label and insult people as an anonymous blogger. Is there a blogger's etiquette?

I was a frequent Shuttle-Bug rider. I live in the Unit block of G Street. I work, go to school, am an able-bodied female and am NOT LAZY. I rode the shuttle every morning and evening to Metro to and from work and classes. In the evening I took Metro home, stopped at the Safeway caught the Shuttle-Bug home. I carried groceies, backpack, & other items. I took the shuttle for safety reasons. Prior to the Shuttle-Bug, I was followed home by juveniles, harassed, had rocks thrown at me. That bus gave me peace of mind and kept me safe. I no longer have that safety.

Don't try to speak for me and the hundreds of other riders who rode the Shuttle-Bug, loved the service and miss it. I met a number of Shuttle-Bug riders on my trips who feel as I do.

by Shuttle-Bug Rider on Jul 31, 2010 4:11 pm • linkreport

cminus: The Shuttle-Bug is not primarily a paratransit issue. Remember, Shuttle-bug was also justified as a crime-avoidance measure. Additional perspective on this issue would be gained by using Google maps to focus on G + 4th Streets SW. This area has townhouses, apartment buildings, and Greenleaf Gardens. Only those who can't walk or wheel to the bus stop (from 3rd to 7th, great choice!) access the bus stop, or navigating transit are MetroAccess-eligible. A senior or younger person toting groceries and being threatened by a would-be mugger isn't MetroAccess-eligible.

Extending the Circulator is impractical. Full-sized buses are banned from G St, and their operating costs can't be justified by the ridership.

By the way, The Shuttle-Bug route was circuitous because of the jersey barrier configuration and the configuration of the area served during construction of Waterfront Station.

by Steve & Beth on Aug 1, 2010 12:34 pm • linkreport

I don't think "fear of muggers" justifies retaining the Shuttle-Bug. First, while it's inarguable we have a crime problem in Southwest (someone got mugged outside my building earlier this week) it's overreacting to say that it's completely unsafe to walk three blocks pushing a wheelie cart. If that were the case, the huge portions of the city with a much higher rate of violent crime would be totally unliveable -- Over the past year, PSA 302 (Columbia Heights) has reported almost four times as many violent crimes as PSA 104. Should the city spring for shuttle buses to take people to DC-USA from three blocks away? The need would seem to be much greater.

What's more, getting more pedestrians on the street is a great way to reduce crime risk -- the biggest improvement in public safety since I've lived here was when the city opened up the area north of the old Waterside Mall and pedestrians started streaming through what was once a notorious crime hot spot.

by cminus on Aug 1, 2010 2:36 pm • linkreport

I am always fascinated by examples that have not been proved by the person who suggest otherwise. Today's violence will not leave you with a bump on the head, but something more deadly follow by trauma that takes time to resolve. Perhaps if you followed your examples and walk at night carry groceries, or walk early in the morning before the sun could rise, the writers of this blog may give you a listening hear. I pray for the Shuttle Bug to return to benefit older people, sick people, seniors who work, and disable people who have not given up on life, I pray

by B.Tillman on Aug 1, 2010 2:50 pm • linkreport

For what it's worth, from my spot in the Logan Circle area: a person got shot 1 block east of me along O St, another stabbed a block south of me at N St, a carjacking at that same N St spot, and I've seen 2 thefts from cars... plus one more I didn't see which involved my own car. ...all in the span of one week, and through it all I still feel comfortable in this neighborhood.

by Bossi on Aug 1, 2010 2:57 pm • linkreport

The Shuttle Bug represented a safe, reliable, efficient and effective community based transportation option for those it served faithfully for 18 months. Those on the team of community members who work long and hard to implement and support this important service should be commended.

The over 40,000 riders that took the Bug is a testimony to the success of the service within Southwest. Many other services in this region, and throughout this country, started with an innovative idea and the willingness of communities like Southwest to have an direct impact on the lives of those that it serves.

Many of the riders used the Bug because it presented them with the type of service that could be accessed in order to meet their individual transportation needs. For example, the driver provided help to seniors on and off the bus and with their grocery bags.

The Bug demonstrated that if you have a nice vehicle, operate an on time service and have a driver that has an understanding of the needs of the riders then services like the Shuttle Bug can be success stories.

by Rob Z on Aug 1, 2010 10:32 pm • linkreport

@Rob Z-

Perhaps I missed it, but where did the 40k ridership come from, and is that per year or over its total service? I didn't see anything in the article above nor are my admittedly quick Google searches turning up much.

by Bossi on Aug 1, 2010 10:36 pm • linkreport

Article states the Shuttle-Bug provided 44,055 rides.

by Beth on Aug 2, 2010 1:50 am • linkreport


Ahh yes, thanks! ~44,055 over its full span.

by Bossi on Aug 2, 2010 1:56 am • linkreport

@RobZ: You are absolutely right! The driver was amazing. He helped seniors and persons with disabilities with their packages (if they needed assistance) on and off the shuttle. He knew our schedules and especially if it was the last run at night (9:40 pm) he waited until the Metro train came in. The same group of us came home from work or class on the same train most evenings and were always glad to see him waiting for us on that nice bus.

by Shuttle-Bug Rider on Aug 2, 2010 11:46 am • linkreport


I'm sorry my comments made you feel as though you shouldn't express your views. My frustration comes from the fact that this issue is being promoted for two reasons, which has yet to be shown to be true: necessity and monetary savings.

On the issue of personal attacks, I defer to my comment to David. I have stuck entirely to the substance of people's arguments and the data that are presented. I never called anyone lazy, never used personal insults, and never put words into someone else's mouth - though you seem to have done that to me. What I did say was that the shuttle "abets" (i.e., encourages) laziness. I think everyone would agree that having a free shuttle making rounds in the neighborhood (all other factors equal) encourages able-bodied people to take a vehicle instead of walking. And, yes, given the distances of the route, to me this represents a complete convenience and not a necessity. Four blocks *maximum* from Safeway? We really are talking about average travel distances that are the length of the Reflecting Pool. I would never consider taking a shuttle from one end of the Reflecting Pool to the other - would you? What's different about a neighborhood street?

The GW survey cited by both GGW and WaPo show that the dominant reason people were taking the shuttle was not health, not safety, but that they didn't have a car. They didn't have a car to drive three or four blocks! You probably end up walking the same distance just pushing your shopping cart up and down each aisle at Safeway. You don't see able-bodied people riding in the power scooters at Safeway because it's "too far to walk."

With respect to the safety issue, I'm sorry you've been harrassed. Everyone has a right to feel safe being in their neighborhood. However, cminus is spot on in saying that SW has it good compared to many other places in the District. Even with some of the issues we've had, the prevalence of crime here is lower than elsewhere. Why should DC gov't foot the bill here, when there is a more heavily used Metro stop and large retail establishment in a much more violent part of town?

Even with that said, is providing a short-distance shuttle really the best way to stop crime? "Steve & Beth" said that it was also a crime-avoidance measure. That's precisely the problem. It doesn't counteract crime, it just "avoids" it. The $185,000 that proponents want could easily hire 3 more cops whose ONLY JOB it would be to just walk that 6-block beat. Or maybe put better streetlights and emergency call boxes along the roads people are afraid of. Or perhaps *hire* 185 youths from SW in after-school community revitalization programs? Wouldn't any of those do more to *avert* crime and build a sense of community instead of isolating residents behind tinted glass?

The bottom line is that however much some SW residents feel we "deserve" this, the truth is:

- The original shuttle has served its purpose re: construction

- Whatever reasons there may be for reinstating the shuttle, there are far more effective ways to address those problems given the cost.

- And if you still think the shuttle is the only way to address those problems, there are FAR more deserving areas of DC than our neck of the woods.

by swresident#2 on Aug 2, 2010 11:48 am • linkreport

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