Greater Greater Washington

Should buses stick out?

Metro General Manager John Catoe reminded bus drivers that they are required to pull completely into their bus stops, not stop with the end of the bus sticking out partway into traffic. DCist commenters promptly ignited a debate between those who felt it's rude for buses to block the lane, and those who felt it's ruder for drivers to make it so hard for buses to get back into the lane, thus appropriate for the buses to stop in a way that allows them easy re-entry.


Proposed bus bulbs on 14th Street.

Our traffic engineering should prioritize bus speed above traffic speed. In fact, DDOT should make it a policy to engineer every segment and intersection to facilitate buses moving most efficiently. After all, one bus carries as many people as an entire lane of traffic. Why should that lane worth wait for a small number of solo drivers at every stop?

We shouldn't be making buses pull out of traffic at all. Instead, we should build bus bulb-outs like those proposed for 14th Street on most busy roads. We should even build bus-only lanes, and give buses signal priority so they can extend a yellow light, avoiding a minute's wait when they pull out of a stop just as the light changes. Letting buses block their lane as they stop is just an improvised part-way step toward bus bulbs or dedicated lanes. Making them stop this practice is moving in the wrong direction.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. 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 now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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Question: is wmata planning on moving the northbound 14th street bus stop from the north side of u street to the south side of u street?

by Alex on May 6, 2008 12:15 pm • linkreport

I wish that any mayor or transit operator who heard this complaint just said, "our bus has 30 people in it. Your car has you in it. You are not more important than 30 people."

by Tom Veil on May 6, 2008 12:17 pm • linkreport

I largely agree except for those locations where large numbers of people board buses at once. It can take a long time to get all those folks on board, especially when people pay with cash. The newest fareboxes don't snap up a dollar as readily as the old ones.

by Chris on May 6, 2008 4:29 pm • linkreport

It's interesting to me to contrast buses with streetcars. The only advantages I can think of for streetcars is that they don't have to wait in normal traffic, and their routes are more obvious because you can see the track even when the streetcar isn't there. For that reason, I would LOVE to see lanes of traffic designated as bus only. I would also love to see the bus routes simplified. If we could do that, we wouldn't need streetcars.

by PJ on May 7, 2008 12:23 am • linkreport

I favor the defacto bulb out stop operation aka letting the rear of the bus stick out.

In Boston, there is yet another rude behavior. Buses pull back out into an "insufficient gap", not totally dangerously but still forcing a car driver to take evasive action.

by ajaynejr on Aug 12, 2010 9:42 pm • linkreport

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