The Fadeaway of the 5B
Just got back from a round trip this morning on the 5B Metrobus, which is among those that will be discontinued as of Sunday. I was curious about this route in particular, because it provides a rare transit link between two urban centers: Washington and Tysons Corner. Yet Metro says the ridership is so low that the resources should be diverted to enhance other bus routes that are more crowded.
The thing that intrigues me is, Why wasn't this route more popular? I boarded at L'Enfant Plaza at 7 a.m. The bus is well-designed, with upholstered double seats on each side of the aisle, an overhead rack to support bags and briefcases, reading lamps -- more like an airport shuttle to the rent-a-car center than a city bus.
There were about a dozen passengers with me for the trip, stopping only in Rosslyn before the drop-offs and pickups at the offices and the transit center in Tysons.
There was no notice posted on the bus about the end of service, but when I asked the driver she did confirm for me that it was ending. One passenger said, Oh, yes, she had seen a brochure about the schedule changes.
We stopped at the Tysons-Westpark Transit Station a few minutes before 8 a.m. and picked up 14 passengers, most of whom got off outside the Rosslyn Metro station, but about half a dozen of us made the trip all the way in to L'Enfant Plaza, getting there a little before 8:30. There was some heavy traffic, of course, on I-66 inside the Beltway, where I noticed an Arlington police officer stopping solo drivers trying to enter the highway during the HOV-2 time period. The 14th Street bridge was the other sluggish spot -- but at least I wasn't driving.
We didn't have Arlo Guthrie aboard to sing "City of New Orleans" to the 15 restless riders, but I felt down to be aboard one of the last trips of this hidden gem in our transportation system.
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