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Not Enough People Using Buses

Metrorail has been jammed all day, but in Maryland, the District and Virgina, I saw many buses that had plenty of room.

People just can't seem to cross that threshold and take a bus. To them, transit means trains.

After the swearing-in, I met a woman on Virginia Avenue who was walking back to a Metrobus for her return trip to Virginia. She made the point that in the morning, people had to let numerous trains go by before they could board, but that buses heading the same way had seats.She was sticking with the bus.

Not that simple, right? The trains are relatively easy to understand. Buses are more complicated. There's anxiety about where you're going to wind up. And sometimes, you're right to be anxious.Today, there were many detours and slowdowns.

Why does it work for her? Because she studies up, examines the timetables and routes, knows about alternatives. If something goes amiss, she knows how to deal. It does take a little extra effort, but it can pay off some days, like today.

The drivers are generally pretty helpful. The ones I heard talking to passengers today were very patient, helping them figure out if that bus would get them near their destination. Of course, it helps to be prepared to walk a few blocks if you encounter really serious detours.

If you're still in town, look again at the list of 23 special routes that Metrobus is running to get people away from central Washington. Here's a map showing where they go. Here's the map that shows where they pick people up.

What was your experience on the buses today?

At 5:30 p.m., the Post's John Kelly reported that from16th and L streets NW that an S4 left for Silver Spring with just 10 people aboard.
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By Robert Thomson  |  January 20, 2009; 3:35 PM ET
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Comments

A friend and I took the bus from Ward Circle (near Tenleytown) to Farragut Square and transferred to Metro at Farragut North/West. The bus filled up about three stops after mine and ran express to Dupont Circle (and at quite a clip, too). The only unfortunate part was that rather than taking us to Farragut Square, the bus dropped us off several blocks away.

Posted by: tonei | January 20, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I tried to take one of the special corridor buses at around 5:30 this morning from Chevy Chase Circle. I waited about 20 or 30 minutes and none of these showed up, so I took a regular bus and got in fine to Dupont Circle. On the way back, I walked several miles before finding a bus, none passed by either. It seemed like they were getting jammed up downtown.

Posted by: Tupolev22m | January 20, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I boarded an S4 bus downtown from Silver Spring, with our bikes, this morning, which was relatively full, but there was never a wait. Same story coming home. We went downtown at 5:40am, and returned at 2pm. Major kudos to the drivers and metro staff in both directions, who were amazingly polite in explaining fares, how to load smartrip cards on the bus, etc., without costing time.
The bike valet at 16th & I was also a huge success, with over 1200 bikes parked, and never more than a 10 minute wait to park or pick up a bike.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | January 20, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

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