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On Time on the S9

I wish I could bottle the ride I just had to share with all Metrobus passengers. It was a smooth, on time trip up 16th Street NW on the new S9 bus, with plenty of seats and no one standing.

The bus driver had to be vocal: "S9 -- limited stops!" he would shout to passengers waiting at the curb.

"Where?" one woman responded. Whenever someone would pull the cord and "Stop Requested" would light up at the front of the bus, the driver would call out to make clear hat the next stop was. As we sailed up 16th Street in relatively light rush hour traffic, some people waiting at the bus shelters would peer quizzically -- or perhaps wistfully -- at the passing S9, which makes just 16 stops between McPherson Square and Silver Spring, compared to the 82 stops for the other S route buses between Federal Triangle or Potomac Park and Silver Spring.

I passed up an S9 at 5 p.m. at 16th and M streets, so I could see if they were indeed coming 10 minutes apart. I could have set my watch by it, and by the 5:40 p.m. on schedule arrival at Colesville Road and East-West Highway in Silver Spring. My only wish: That passengers didn't have to cross that busy Colesville/East-West intersection to connect with the Silver Spring Metro station, other Metro and Ride On buses and the commuter parking garages.

My mood may have been buoyed by the cherry blossoms and magnolias that brushed by the windows on the way up 16th, and the traffic can't always be that good, but day 1 of the new express service looked like a winner to me. And I'm looking forward to the arrival of more of those distinctive hybrid-electric buses that should add a touch of flare to the express.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 30, 2009; 6:08 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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We'll see how well the S9 keeps to schedule. The 79's end up clumping some times during rush hour.

BTW, couldn't they improve service on the S's, 70's, Q2's, Z's, J's and the other limited service overlay routes by cutting the number of local stops? There's no reason why bus stops can't be more than 1/10 mile apart from each other. And placing multiple stops around every transit center and shopping center seems counterproductive. One with security cameras, transit schedules and adequate shelters makes a lot more sense than 3 or 4 with none of the above.

Posted by: cprferry | April 1, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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