Taking the Uncertainty Out of Bus Travel
Some of the longest moments of a traveler's day are spent gazing down the avenue, hoping to catch sight of an approaching bus, as you see in the photo above. But in a week and a half, riders may be able to turn their attention to more productive waiting games.
Lena H. Sun wrote in Sunday's Post about Metro's plan to bring back NextBus on July 1. If it works the way it's supposed to, NextBus will be the biggest breakthrough in transit this year.
We already have new Circulator bus routes in DC. That's good. The Circulator buses are distinctive looking, they charge an easy to remember fare of $1, the stops have easy to understand maps showing their routes and the buses arrive on an easy to remember 10 minute schedule. We also have new limited stop services from Metro, like the S9 on 16th Street, also with a distinctive design for the bus and an easy to remember schedule of every 10 minutes.
This NextBus thing is better, because it's bigger. You'll find a red, white and blue shield on the bus stop pole giving the ID number of the bus stop and the phone number to call to get the next bus time for almost 12,000 stops. Or you can call it up from the Metro Web site. Here's an image of what that looks like.
It should make a bus trip much more appealing to people who would otherwise shun the transit service because they have no idea when the bus is going to arrive. (Nobody believes the printed schedules.)
It's supposed to be accurate to within a couple of minutes. That's pretty good, but here's the thing to watch for: That means a couple of minutes either way. It's not so bad if the bus is a couple of minutes late. That's a lot better than 15 minutes of not knowing what's going on. But what if you're checking the arrival time by desktop computer from home or office and the bus turns out to be two minutes early? Now you've missed it and have to wait for the next round.
[Lena plans to join me for the weekly online discussion at noon today. You can ask her all about this. We'll take all your traffic and transit questions. Here's the link for the discussion. And here's the one in case you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance.]
June 22, 2009; 9:07 AM ET
Categories: Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus, NextBus
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