Metrobus adds, subtracts service
Metro plans to start some faster bus services along popular routes in the D.C. area this December. There will be two such routes between Virginia and the District, a new limited stop service between Capitol Heights and downtown Washington and more frequent buses between Bethesda and Silver Spring.
To cover the cost of the extra service, Metro says, it will reduce service on some other routes and will cut some service around holidays when ridership traditionally falls off. Those holidays and holiday periods are Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President's Day, the day after Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. The plan is to take effect Dec. 19.
Metro adjusts its bus schedules several times a year, adding and subtracting service, based on staff reviews, budget considerations and discussions with governments and community organizations.
Jim Hamre, who directs bus planning for Metro, said at a Metro board committee meeting in September that bus ridership on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is about half the average weekday ridership. On Veterans Day, it's 71 percent of average.
Some of the other cuts in bus service eliminate redundancy on routes -- including services provided by suburban bus agencies -- or reduce service on routes with low ridership. Sometimes the transit planners streamline a service to account for changes in traffic patterns.
Board member Chris Zimmerman of Arlington County voted against the plan at Thursday's meeting of the full board, but a majority supported the resolution. Zimmerman was concerned that the plan presented to the board did not specify the service cuts on individual routes.
The plan identifies routes on which service will be changed -- and that almost always means a cut -- but the transit staff has not presented finalized schedules for public review. Zimmerman had noted at the September committee meeting that these specific cuts were not the subject of public hearings.
A Metro document describing the bus changes says that Routes H6, N8, C2, R12, T16 and T17 will experience major service reductions.
These are the service improvements cited by Metro.
Riders on the 16F and 7E routes will be able to go directly into downtown Washington. The 13A and 13B routes will be replaced with extensions of the 16F and 7E routes. Service through the Pentagon will be preserved for riders who want to transfer to Metrorail or another bus, and also to allow other bus riders to transfer to downtown bus routes.
The 7E route will provide service through the Pentagon and across Memorial Bridge to Federal Triangle, by way of Constitution Avenue. Metro says the adjusted 16F route will begin in the Culmore neighborhood, travel along Columbia Pike to the Pentagon and then continue across the 14th Street Bridge to Federal Triangle by way of Independence Avenue. These route extensions will replace Routes 13A and 13B.
Adjustments to the X Line will include limited-stop service at rush hour on the X9 on Benning Road and H Street from the Capitol Heights Metrorail station to downtown Washington. The X2 schedules are being revised. The X1 route will be extended to Foggy Bottom.
Some Greenbelt routes will be simplified and shortened. The Greenbelt City Council endorsed the changes, the transit authority said. Some of the changes will be made in coordination with The Bus, Prince George's County's local service.
Also, trips will be added to the J2 route between Silver Spring and Bethesda, a route that is crowded and slow at rush hour.
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