Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What we learned at Ward 4's Rediscover the Bus

Tommy Wells held the Ward 4 edition of his Rediscover the Bus listening tour tonight at the Northern Bus Garage's community room. A few things that were discussed:

There's poor east-west connectivity. Trying to remedy this is challenging, but the E2, 3, and 4 lines (aka the Military Road-Crosstown lines) are under study. We'd all like to see them run more effficiently. But east-west connectivity is going to get a big boost because...

A Circulator route that runs between Tenleytown and Silver Spring is being planned. The proposed route runs down Military/Missouri and then north on Georgia to Silver Spring. But alas, it won't be operational til at least 2019.

There are too many stops on certain lines, and because of that it takes forever for the buses to get anywhere. At least one attendee cited this as the reason he rarely rides buses anymore. A WMATA planner (whose name I did not catch) said that the standard amount of bus stops per mile is four, yet many bus routes in Ward 4 have seven or eight stops per mile. It'd be great to start eliminating some stops that are deemed underused, but then again, we've seen that eliminating stops can cause problems too. The 70 line has 59 stops, as opposed to the 79, Georgia Avenue's limited-stop bus, which has 17 stops. Speaking of which...

The limited-stop buses are awesome. Much praise was heard for both the 79 on Georgia and the S9 on 16th Street. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to try to get downtown from Brightwood before those bus lines existed. Plans are to extend the 79's weekday hours til 10 pm and add Saturday service; midday and evening expansion is being planned for the S9.

More changes are in the works. Future plans include a Petworth/Manor Park/Takoma shuttle, an access study for Fort Totten, and the elimination of the K1 line that runs between Takoma and Walter Reed upon Walter Reed's closure.

In non-bus-related transportation news, Wells said that his goal for Capital Bikeshare is to double its fleet within two years, bringing the number of bikes to 2,200, which will allow for expansion into Ward 4.

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