Last year in Costa Rica, in a conversation about the crowded nature of the local buses, a colleague mentioned that his travels had taken him to only one place where people actually line up for a bus. Aha! I thought, I too have such a place. But my smugness turned to incredulity when he continued: "It was behind this university in Washington, D.C."
For years the UDC bus stop had fascinated me. I remember the first time I transferred from Metro to the L2 bus shortly after moving to the area. I arrived as the bus did and ran straight to the door, preparing to maneuver my way in. A few looks were exchanged, nothing was said, but I got the message: There was a line.
In the ensuing days I came to realize that my experience was not a fluke. At almost any time of day, people would quietly queue up under the large overhang, waiting for the bus to make its loop off Connecticut Avenue to pick them up. In the five years I participated in this ritual, not once did I hear a rebuke or chastisement. The line was understood.
Thus it was with some regret that I saw the stop had been moved to Connecticut Avenue. Metro had received complaints that the overhang was too isolated at night.
It's true that the new stop is better lit. Still, something was lost. Passing by recently, I saw that a few people had tried to form a line. But it was impeded by mailboxes and newspaper stands, and many people, intimidated by cars flying by only inches from the curb, had dispensed with the whole thing and were milling about or sitting under the shelter. What a shame, I thought. My internationally known bus stop is no more.