Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wonder Why Bus Ridership has Fallen Off a Cliff

Metro reported (PDF) that bus ridership has fallen 7 percent, while rail ridership was down 2 percent. Wonder why.

From DZ:
A few weeks ago, while everyone else in the District was on the Mall for the rally, I found myself in Georgetown for work. When it was time to go home, I set my trusty Droid to NextBus and looked up when the G2 was expected to leave from its terminal point at the front gates of Georgetown University. I made sure I arrived about 10 minutes before the NextBus-listed departure time to be absolutely sure I didn't miss the bus.

I didn't miss it, alright. It was already sitting there, the engine idling, the doors closed, no driver in sight. And so I waited. The NextBus clocked clicked down to 1 minute, then displayed "Arriving," then moved on to the next bus in the list. The G2 continued to sit there, engine idling. Finally, after about 25 minutes, the driver materialized from God-knows-where, got in, opened the doors to allow the crowd that had gathered to enter, and commenced the route.

Is there some rule saying DC law does not apply to Metro? Because I'm pretty sure I remember seeing signs posted at Friendship Heights warning bus drivers about not leaving their buses idling. A search of DC regulations reveals the following:

900.1 No person owning, operating, or having control over the engine of a gasoline or diesel powered motor vehicle on public or private space, including the engine of a public vehicles for hire, buses with a seating capacity of twelve (12) or more persons, and school buses or any vehicle transporting students, shall allow that engine to idle for more than three (3) minutes while the motor vehicle is parked, stopped, or standing, including for the purpose of operating air conditioning equipment in those vehicles, except as follows:
(a) To operate private passenger vehicles; (b) To operate power takeoff equipment, including dumping, cement mixers, refrigeration systems, content delivery, winches, or shredders; or (c) To idle the engine for no more than five (5) minutes to operate heating equipment when the ambient air temperature is thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit (32° F) or below.
AUTHORITY: Unless otherwise noted, the authority for this chapter is § 412 of the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, as amended, 87 Stat. 790, Pub. L. No. 93-198, D.C. Code § 1-227(a); and § 3 of the District of Columbia Air Pollution Control Act of 1984, D.C. Law 5-165, D.C. Code § 6-906 (1995 Repl. Vol.), Mayor's Order 93-12 dated February 16, 1993.
SOURCE: Section 3 of the District of Columbia Air Pollution Control Act of 1984, D.C. Law 5-165, 32 DCR 565, 647 (February 1, 1985);as amended by final rulemaking at 46 DCR 6017 (July 23, 1999); as amended by the Healthy Schools Act of 2010, effective July 27, 2010 (D.C. Law 18-209), published at 57 DCR 7548 (August 20, 2010).

So, let's see:
  • Bizarre NextBus phantom bus arrival times that don't remotely correspond to reality? Check.
  • Bus not keeping to posted schedule (The G2 schedule says there are G2s departing from that stop at 1:22 and then not another one until 1:52. I got on at 1:32, and it didn't leave for a few minutes because it took a while for everyone who'd gathered to get on.) even when there's no traffic to prevent it from doing so? Check.
  • Violating DC law? Check!
Ironic that they had the rally here because if there's anything on the planet that's the antithesis of restoring sanity, it's Metro.
And consider:
Hit n run

And Metro's answer? This!

Maybe people just don't want to pay for this "service" any more.

Other items:
Metro getting rid of some bus stops (WaPo)
December track work (weeknight/weekend) (WMATA)
Express buses on the way (WMATA)
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