Rest of a Quest

January 13, 2012

You know how riding Metro sometimes takes a little longer than planned? Em Hall does. The 32-year-old Washingtonian set out to visit every Metro station and ride every Metrobus route in a year for her blog, Metro-Venture. It’s been two years since her quest began, but, finally, the end is in sight.

With fewer than 10 stations left to hit and enough bus rides under her belt that she’s worried there’s just not much more to say, Hall’s looking to wrap it up by the end of February. The delay, she admits, was her own fault. The map didn’t seem so daunting, and she’s an adventurous gal who’s willing to go out of her way to explore new neighborhoods. What she hadn’t factored in was that it would be much easier to get around downtown than to trek to all of the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Although she won’t be updating the blog anymore, it won’t completely disappear. Hall figures her entries — which typically include a description of where the station or route is (or goes), who’s there, what’s nearby and a sense of the general vibe — will still be useful to readers, and she plans to update the site when the Silver Line and streetcars debut.

And what certainly won’t go away is her appreciation for Washington and its transit system. “I think about the city totally differently now and about how things are connected,” she says. “Some folks know one way to get somewhere. I have at least two or three other routes I can take.” Her encyclopedic knowledge of the bus network combined with the NextBus app means Hall can hop around to get absolutely anywhere. Her record: 10 rides in a day.

Along the way, she’s studied patterns of rider behavior. “People in Arlington queue up for buses. I don’t know why,” says Hall, who’s noticed this at the Pentagon and along the Columbia Pike corridor but nowhere else in the region. Riders on the express bus routes tend to be the least talkative. For a good conversation, she suggests opting instead for a route with a lot of older riders on a weekend. Searching for bad etiquette? You won’t have to look hard. “There are always people who won’t get up for pregnant women or old people,” she says.

Hall, the marketing manager at Zipcar in D.C., has kept her SmarTrip bill lower than you might expect with her scheduling strategy — trains on weekends and evenings, buses at peak fare times. “I have a ridiculous number of bus stop Four Square mayorships, though,” she says. “And I’ve spent way too much time running after things.”

She’s never gotten lost or felt like she’s been in any danger. And despite having to walk up a few broken escalators and to wait for way too long at certain bus stops, Hall’s still a transit fan. “I’d pick Metro over any other form of transportation,” she says.

So even though her Metro-Venture is almost over, her journey continues.

Take Routes

Part of Hall’s not-so-hidden agenda with the blog was to promote bus riding. Here are three routes she recommends.

H2,3,4-Crosstown Line. The route connects the two sides of the Red Line by heading between Brookland and Tenleytown. It’s like the Purple Line, but in the city.

80-North Capitol Street Line. “I have a love-hate relationship with the 80,” Hall says. But she knows she’ll always have an adventure somewhere between Fort Totten and the Kennedy Center.

60,64-Fort Totten-Petworth Line. This bus takes 11th Street through town, which was a pleasant surprise for Hall. “There are amazing circles up there that have these scenic parks,” she says.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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Rachel Kaufman · January 13, 2012