DDOT urged to act on 16th Street bus lane, again


(Luz Lazo/The Washington Post).

The D.C. Department of Transportation is being urged, again, to advance a plan for a bus lane on the 16th Street NW corridor.

The bus lane idea came up again at a public hearing Friday where residents commented on DDOT’s proposed long-range transportation plan, moveDC. The plan identifies several major bus corridors, including 16th Street, as potential places for dedicated bus lanes.

Kishan Putta, a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for the Dupont Circle area, said residents are glad moveDC would make investments on bus service, but don’t want the long-term plan to delay more immediate plans for 16th Street.  An outspoken advocate for a bus lane along 16th Street, Putta urged the the city to move forward with a bus lane feasibility study for the corridor. DDOT already has funding to conduct the study, he said.

For years, bus riders along 16th Street NW have complained about the chronic commuting problems on the S lines, which connect Silver Spring to downtown D.C.  Traffic congestion causes frequent delays and buses often are too full to pick up more passengers. Now some riders, smart-growth advocates and Metro officials say they want a dedicated bus lane.  Recent studies support their request, but DDOT officials have said a  more detailed study is necessary before a bus lane can be implemented.

Council member Mary M. Cheh, chair of the committee on Transportation and the Environment, which held the moveDC hearing Friday, agreed DDOT should proceed to with the feasibility study.  Earlier this year, the committee urged DDOT to conduct the study and work with Metro to examine other possible improvements such as off-board fare collection to improve the corridor.

“We have the money. Do the study, for heaven’s sake!” Cheh said Friday. “There is a degree of frustration if we provide money and we provide direction and something languishes.”

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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Luz Lazo | June 27