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New Buses in D.C. Today

If you wait for buses at Silver Spring Station, McPherson Square, or in between along 16th Street NW, you're going to see something new today. This morning marks the debut of the S9 bus. It's not only a new route but a new concept for that corridor. It's even a new type of bus.

This is the product of a Metro study that included a lot of talking to bus riders about their frustrations with the 16th Street Line and what they thought could be done to make it better. The 16th Street Line is one of the busiest in the Metrobus system. It also runs along way through congested parts of the District. So it experiences all the problems associated with those factors: The buses can't stick to their schedules and when they do arrive, they tend to arrive in bunches. They also are very crowded.

The S9 was designed to correct those problems. It has enough buses assigned to operate every 10 minutes on weekdays between 6:30 and 10 a.m., and from 3 to 7 p.m. Instead of stopping every block or two, the way the other S buses do, the S9 will stop at 16 locations in each direction.

The buses will be easy to recognize, because they don't look like the regular Metrobuses. They're hybrid electrics, colored red, white, blue and gray and marked "metrobus express." It's the same fare as a regular Metrobus: $1.25 with a Smartrip card and $1.35 with cash.

The concept is similar to the Metro Extra bus, the limited stop run on Georgia Avenue that also originates at Silver Spring. And if the Metro Extra is a guide, this first day of operation on the S9 will involve some confusion for riders. On the first day of the Metro Extra, the drivers would announce loudly to boarding passengers that the bus made "limited stops!" Still, people would rush up to the driver during the run to accuse him of missing their stops.

Look at this map and timetable to see if the S9 stops work for you. If not, the regular S1, S2 and S4 are still operating.

New Circulators, Too
The way of the future is knowning when the bus is coming. In July, we all hope, Metro will reintroduce the Next Bus alert system, which tracks the approach of buses and lets riders know the arrival times, either through the Web or mobile phones or on electronic signs at the bus shelters.

But for now, the bus routes that promise an arrival every 10 minutes offer encouragement for expanding transit use. Besides the new S9, riders today can check out two new routes for the District's distinctive Circulator buses. One of the new routes links Woodley Park Station on the Red Line, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights Station on the Green and Yellow lines, U and 14th streets NW and the east side of McPherson Square Station on the Blue and Orange lines. The District says they'll operate every 10 minutes on this schedule: Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. (You can see from the route and the times that this is partly about opening up access to the restaurant and entertainment areas in the Adams Morgan and U Street corridors.)

The other new Circulator is a similar proposition. It replaces Metro's N22 route linking Union Station, Eastern Market, the 8th Street SE entertainment area and the Navy Yard, with a stop convenient to Nationals Park. Except during baseball season, when the operation is extended, the hours and days for this route are: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

At $1, the fare is cheaper than Metrobus. See all five of the Circulator routes on this map.

Metro Resources:  Riding the System  |  Trip Planner   |   Map  |  Post Coverage

By Robert Thomson  |  March 30, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro , transit  
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I'm very sad to see the the Navy Yard-Union Station route has no weekend service at all and weeknight service stops at 7 pm. It frustrating that we were told "Your route is being replaced by Circulator, it'll be fine," and then not be able to get any information until the last minute. We've lost night and weekend service from our route and had no idea it was coming because route information was not made public until the day before.

Posted by: RedBirdie | March 30, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree. How many people need a bus to the "8th St SE" entertainment district M-F between 6 am and 7 pm. Very disappointing.

Posted by: DCLiz | March 30, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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