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Metro Planning New Express Bus

Metrobus is planning to add a rush-hour express service along 16th Street NW to speed up the commute and ease congestion along the third busiest line in the bus system. The new route, called the S9, will run between Silver Spring and downtown Washington.

This concept is similar to the Metro Extra service on Georgia Avenue, a limited-stop bus run that has proved popular.

The 16th Street version could begin by the end of March if it gets approval from the full Metro board later this month. It passed a board committee this morning.

The 16th Street bus line, which consists of the S1, S2 and S4, carries 16,000 riders a day and has all the chronic problems of long-distance bus routes that must pass through heavy traffic congestion. Riders complain that the buses are often late and when they do come, they come three at once.

The new service would use a distinctive looking bus: a blue and silver hybrid-electric, with "express" branding, the transit authority said. Instead of making 82 stops from the Silver Spring Metro station to Federal Triangle or Potomac Park, the express would make 16 stops between Silver Spring Station and McPherson Square. Buses would be scheduled to arrive every 10 minutes during morning and evening rush hours. That should save six to eight minutes on travel times over the entire route.

This is a demonstration project, costing about $3.6 million over the next two years. The District of Columbia would pay for it. If the project is successful, it could eventually be incorporated into the regular Metro budget.

This new service is the result of a study similar to many others now underway at Metro, designed to get both the community and the Metro staff involved in improving bus service.

Planners hope that at some point, these special buses can use a technology that gives them priority at traffic signals, to speed the trips to and from downtown. Another plan would create bus lanes along certain heavily used corridors.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 12, 2009; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Good luck making through the traffic.

Posted by: ceefer66 | February 12, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Instead of creating a new Express service Metro should simply add one or two buses to the route in use and reduce the stops for those buses. Metro is obviously partaking in the DC drug scene (smoking crack) if they feel they should be permitted to pass through lights while the tax payers sit in traffic. It would seem to me that the board of directors and Catoe need to go, they are old school management and have no idea how to turn things around.

Posted by: askgees | February 12, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"Another plan would create bus lanes along certain heavily used corridors."

They've tried that on 7th and 9th Streets downtown. The "bus-only" signs are universally ignored, and rightly so because DC refuses to prevent double-parking and lane-blocking by valet stands (meaning that if people stayed out of the bus lane, 9th Street would effectively have one lane for traffic).

Posted by: 1995hoo | February 12, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Having been on the S bus route for many years, I completely understand the need for more efficient transportation along this route. I recall many years ago a similar bus, called the S1 Express Route, it used to stop only to let on passengers and would only stop to let off at designated bus stops. Not sure why it was done away with, seeing as it was efficient. I have waited in the evening for 15 minutes to travel north 16th only to have one come already crowded or 2 at a time. I think this new bus is a great idea, seeing as something needs to be done at this point.

Posted by: acg10 | February 12, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Metro Loves smoking crack with Marion Barry!

Posted by: freddyo97 | February 12, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Your crack jokes are soooo 1990. You need new material...

Posted by: mbm1 | February 12, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

When I lived in San Francisco I made regular use of an "Express Bus." It makes fewer stops, but it still gets stuck in traffic. I think it is a good stop-gap measure, but we need to invest in expanding the Metrorail system. This city has grown so much since the original system was planned. It is a multi-year project, but we need to start planning it now.

Posted by: SAF20016 | February 12, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Until the can consistently keep the traffic moving from the bridge over the Park road and downtown past New Hampshire Avenue, the express bus being an improvement is only wishful thinking. I disagree with the complaint that the traffic signalling device on the bus would adversely affect the drivers traveling on 16th Street. If they did implement that, those drivers would benefit on the theory that the rising tide lifts all boats.

Posted by: jimmy_mac | February 12, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Many writers mention 16th Street traffic that will still make this admirable express bus service a challenge. Why isn't METRO talking with the DC Transportation and Parking people too. One immediate thought: Absolutely NO parking on either side of 16th Street between 7:00AM - 9:00 AM and 4:00PM - 6:00 PM and NO deliveries either. Let's use all available lanes to move us in and out of the city.

Posted by: johnklenert | February 12, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

DC should consider some 'red routes' like they have in Hong Kong and London. These curbs are painted red and there is no parking, stopping, standing, loading, unloading, drop offs--nothing whatsoever allowed in those red route areas. They are flowing traffic lanes at all times, and enforced with spot tickets to anyone 'just dropping someone off' or delivery trucks.

Posted by: idiparker | February 12, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I live on 16th st and it's a good idea, although I think what might be more effective is to run some buses that pick up people on the northern end of the route and then run non-stop to downtown.

This would prevent buses from overcrowding before they get to lower 16th street, and might even present the opportunity to put in empty buses at mid-route. In pre Metrorail days, Metro did this with the L7 along Connecticut Avenue.

And although Metrobus blames traffic for the bunching of buses -- along 16th street is is usually four or five or six, not three, at a time during rush hour -- they tend to bunch up even in non-rush hours when there is no traffic. Whether this is due to poor scheduling, lazy drivers, or something else I don't know, but it isn't traffic.

Posted by: Meridian1 | February 12, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

You'll always have moving trucks and delivery vehicles parked along side 16th street. Instead of more buses, they should make 16th street all southbound or all northbound during the rush hours. That would effectively move people in/out of downtown, and lessen congestion on other routes such as 14th street. 16th street would be ideal because it is not a commecial corridor.

Posted by: wlewis3609 | February 12, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

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