Metro plans to launch a new bus route in Southwest Washington next weekend that officials say will improve reliability on an existing bus line and replace some D.C. Circulator service.
The Circulator, which is paid for by the District, is discontinuing its Convention Center-SW Waterfront route because ridership is low, according to John Lisle, a spokesman for the city transportation department. The service will end Sept. 30. However, the District is expanding Circulator service to areas east of the Anacostia River.
“We don’t have the funds or the buses to do both,” Lisle said.
Starting Sept. 25, Metro is launching its new bus line: the 74, Convention Center/Southwest Waterfront, which will serve much of the same area as the D.C. Circulator’s Waterfront route.
Metro’s 74 route will run a 6.9-mile route between the Southwest Waterfront, the National Mall and the Washington Convention Center.
“Our hope is that we can deliver quality service so [customers] won’t miss” the Circulator, said Jim Hamre, Metro’s director of bus service planning. “We’re bringing in new buses, dedicated supervisors, and adding bus shelters.”
New buses that are able to lower their floors so passengers can board more easily will run along the route every 18 minutes during peak hours and 24 minutes all other times, Metro officials said.
Buses will operate between K and Sixth streets NW and Half and O streets SW, connecting with Metro stations at Waterfront, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives and Gallery Place stations. The 74 line will operate extended service to and from Buzzard Point, V and Second streets SW during weekday peak times.
Metro plans to promote the new route with ads and brochures. The agency and the District Department of Transportation plan to install “real-time destination” screens at eight bus shelters along the 74 route in the coming months.
Metro officials said it decided to make the changes to the 70 bus line to try to improve reliability. The community gave input on the route through a series of community meetings and town halls this spring and summer.
The 70 bus route is among the highest traveled line in the system and the addition of the new 74 route is meant to improve reliability, Metro said.
Instead of the 70 running on an hour-long route between Silver Spring and Southwest, it will now run from Silver Spring to Archives but not continue into Southwest.
The new 74 will take over most of the Southwest portion of the 70 route, Metro officials said.
“This is going to provide more reliable service so that you can better depend on your bus showing up when it is scheduled to be there,” said Julie Hershorn, Metro’s manager of bus planning.
Bus service planning director Hamre said there will also be benefits to riders along the 70 route that runs along Georgia Avenue because buses won’t get caught in as much traffic.
The addition of the 74, he said, “simplifies the route patterns and the names of the routes.”
Hamre said the addition of the 74 allows Metro transit service to “be more customized to responding to the growth” of Southwest Washington.
Metro’s service — NextBus — that is meant to tell riders when the next vehicle is coming has had a history of troubles and complaints from riders because it is unreliable.
Metro officials said at a board meeting last week that they are working to put in electronic signs similar to the ones in its rail system that countdown to when buses are coming.
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