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Posted at 6:52 PM ET, 06/ 2/2010

Where is the bus?

By editors

By Ray Milefsky

Regarding the May 30 Metro article about Em Hall’s quest to visit every Metro station and ride every Metrobus line in one year, “Blogger brings her readers along for the ride”:

One reason I don’t ride the bus is that without a schedule or route map, I am seldom sure, as Ms. Hall pointed out, where the bus is going. It can be a crapshoot that you will ever reach your destination in a direct manner in a reasonable amount of time. Ms. Hall’s blog posts and the new iPhone app tracking buses are virtual versions of the generations of old ladies on whom we all relied at bus stops for their acquired “bus knowledge,” who can tell you where the bus is going and warn of any obstacles and unexpected diversions en route. The Metro (at least usually) stays on its tracks, has a clear map and generally does not make absurd diversions.

Why isn’t there a single Metro bus map like systems in other cities have? Don’t tell me to look it up online, because I don’t own a laptop or an iPhone and WiFi is not ubiquitous. And why don’t buses just stick to main roads?

This article points out buses’ perennial unreliability and tardiness. I bike to work in 15 to 20 minutes from my home north of the Convention Center to Foggy Bottom because the Metro, with one transfer, takes 45 minutes door to door, just about the same amount of time it takes to walk. The G2 bus and God knows what bus south would no doubt take much longer.

By editors  | June 2, 2010; 6:52 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, Metro, traffic, transportation  
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The Bus v Rail split is all about class. Buses are treated as second-class transportation by planners and politicians. Too may politicians look to milk land for maximum property tax revenue. They believe transit-oriented development near -- or even kinda near -- rail stops will do the trick. WMATA rider surveys indicate that rail riders are more likely to be male and affluent, bus riders more female and working-class or poor. Real estate development has concentrated on the upper class for some time. Furthermore, when rail comes along, bus service changes, often diminishing. Routes are changed to serve the rail stops, making bus-only trips more complex and likely to involve transfers.

Posted by: catbird500 | June 2, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I support the idea of users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features too.

Posted by: raissazhou | June 3, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

You can obtain MetroBus system maps at any Commuter Store (there are several in the region), or I believe at Metro Center. People who have a computer can also download them online.

There isn't one single overall bus system map because there are too many routes. Instead, there are individual maps showing all routes in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. If you have a copy of those three maps, you are good to go.

Since this is a web comment, here is the link to download them:

Posted by: Dan Malouff | June 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Bus trips would be a lot better if on some of the routes they'd eliminate some of the stops. I used to ride the E2 crosstown from 7th & Kennedy to the Friendship Heights Station and in my old Brightwood neighborhood the bus would stop every block in places. Is that really necessary? Couldn't it be every other block?

Posted by: stodge | June 3, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it obvious? A system-wide bus map would reveal Metrobus/Metrorail's routes having been revised to take ALL passengers to Metro stations, whether or not they want to get off or proceed to the next stop.

I remember when there used to be a direct route down 355/Rockville Pike from Montgomery College to a point in DC (I can't remember exactly where). Try that now: Impossible. All buses are routed through Metro stations, trying to wear down riders to get off and pay more to ride Metrorail.

That's why I refuse to ride either unless absolutely necessary. I'm not going to be scammed by taking a circuituous route when the direct route has been eliminated. And don't even get me started on what's wrong with the parking!!!

Posted by: momosity1 | June 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

milefski is a professional complainer and cyber-coward. how can anyone take him seriously?

Posted by: onthecontrary | June 3, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to address the comment about why buses don't stick to main roads...if they only stuck to main roads those of us without alternate transportation might have to walk 1/2-3/4 of a mile to what the City/County considers a "main road." The idea is to serve the neighborhoods throughout the City (or County - if you use ART/Connector/etc.) - not just the tourists and M-F commuters. Folks are correct, you can get maps and information at a lot of different places including the public library! Free!!!

Posted by: nova_mom_08 | June 4, 2010 5:53 AM | Report abuse

I prefer the bus...When I lived in SE and was served by the 30's lines, the bus was the easiest and cheapest way to go, so that's what I did. It may have taken longer, but you end up just building that time into wherever you're going. Now that I live in VA, I can't take a single bus into DC, because there aren't any. I end up having to take Metro, which still takes awhile, usually makes me nauscious, and costs more. I'm actually about to start driving to work and just forget the whole Metro bus/train issue all together.

Anyway, like others said, there are paper maps at every Metro station, and many of the buses carry maps too. If you don't live too far outside DC, it's pretty easy to get around via bus, it lets you see the sights, and most of the shorter routed bus lines are pretty good about staying on time. The long, popular routes have issues, but I would say they're still okay about 70% of the time. Quit complaining, and use the option that works best for you.

Posted by: akchild | June 4, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree, the writer sounds like a whiner but he does have a couple valid points and maybe he needs some help:

There, that takes care of the Metrobus maps. OK, it's not on one map since they wouldn't actually fit; we have a lot of bus routes that cover a huge area. Maybe we should be like other big cities like New York City (oh, they do the same thing, only they have five maps instead of three.

I would argue that most Metrobuses DO follow the main roads except when they detour into neighborhoods with larger numbers of riders. Most bus riders figure out their routes and don't look at maps or schedules after a few weeks anyway.

Oh, what the heck. Maybe we should just pitch in and buy the guy what he wants: a car with a GPS. He sounds like he would be an annoying person to be next to on the bus anyway.

Posted by: junebug98 | June 4, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

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