Monday, July 13, 2009

Sold On the Bus?

The Washington Post ran an article on Saturday about how some Red Line commuters are opting for the bus as the train continues to experience delays.
The article is fairly well summed up by this quote:
"'I would prefer the train, but until they really get it up and running again, I'll stay right here,' [Johnise Price] said as she traveled toward home aboard the 79."
The article quoted other commuters who said they were happy with the bus alternative for now, but all save one appeared to want to return to the train once it was running normally.
The article cited stats about increased bus ridership along Red Line alternative routes, but the numbers were already down from the week immediately after the crash.
DCist, speculating on a potential bus renaissance, takes the Post article a step further, saying
"There is a tendency for many to neglect the bus system, which, though slower and containing certain assumptions about those who ride it, can be an incredibly useful tool for getting people where they need to go. ... Metro's saving grace might just have four wheels."
If you're in DC as well as certain parts of Maryland, the the bus might very well be a viable commuting option, but if you're further out, or in Virginia, the bus' predominant role is to feed into the Metro.
If something catastrophic were to happen to the Orange or Blue lines, Northern Virginia commuters would be hard pressed to find good bus alternatives.
There are only a handful of bus lines that cross the Potomac from Virginia to DC, and virtually any bus trip plotted on Metro's trip planner takes a bus rider to either the Pentagon or Rosslyn.
Are you a Red Line rider who made the switch to bus? Are you sold? If you're thinking about making the switch, there are some good options listed here or here.

Other items:
Metro braces for lawsuits (WaPo)
Ride On driver appears to read at the wheel (WTOP)
Metro's problems go deeper than one faulty track circuit (Examiner)
Funny cartoon on subway crowding (Viruscomix via @hostagehoosier)

Photo: Wayan Vota

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Rob said...

Our office just moved to a new building off Constitution & 23rd. The 13A goes from Pentagon to this location and I tried it out today. The walk from Foggy Bottom Station is about 5 blocks so it's a bit of a walk. I tried the 13A and I'll be riding the bus from now on.

Anonymous said...

It hadn't really occurred to me before this article, but... maybe we did luck out a bit with the Red being the line that had the accident. Not that its at all a good thing that it happened, don't get me wrong, but had this happened at, say, Rosslyn for example, things could truly be snarled. It really is Pentagon and Rosslyn for the buses in Virginia- shut down one of them, and the Blue line is crippled, and either Yellow or Orange goes with it. Very interesting- I wonder if Metro has pondered it?

Anonymous said...

Ever since the major accident last month between Fort Totten and Takoma, I have been taking the bus. I catch the 63 bus from Takoma. At the time of the accident, I was so outraged at how the situation was managed. I was stuck underground on a VERY crowded car for an hour (did I mention I'm claustrophobic?) and then dumped at the Rhode Island station for another 2 hours, only to be redirected to the Medical Center Stop to catch a J bus to Silver Spring. There was no plan; no one taking charge or even basic responsibility for anything going on. No places to sit, no water to drink, no communication between the stations. Nothing. It was at that point that I realized I needed an alternative to the train.

I highly recommend the buses to commuters. Even with the recent controversies on the buses (cell phone use, arrest), the bus still provides consistent service and goes places the metro can't. If you aren't feeling well or NEED to get off the bus, it is as easy as pulling a cord and waiting a minute or two. It's cheaper, has fresh(er) air, and a greater sense of community. You can tell who is a regular on a particular route by how they know at least 2 people on the bus at any given moment.

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