About 45 Metrobus routes serving Far Northeast Washington and Prince George's County will be changed Monday to coordinate bus service with the Metro subway's two-week-old Orange Line.
Most of the route changes will concentrate Metrobuses on two of the five new Orange Line stations -- the Minnesota Avenue station just above Benning Road on Minnesota Avenue NE, and the New Carrollton station, just inside the Beltway at John Hanson Highway (Rte. 50). A few buses will be routed through the Deanwood, Cheverly and Landover stations.
The purpose of the bus route changes is to reduce parallel bus and subway service and cut costs for the taxpayer-subsidized transit system. However, the District of Columbia government is actually subsidizing improved bus service on the Benning Road -- H Street NE corridor from the east side of the Anacostia River to downtown. That improved service will start Monday.
Thus, while as many as 65 buses an hour will be passing through the Minnesota Avenue station during rush hour, many passengers will just transfer from one bus to another and ignore the subway.
In the evenings, however, it is expected that many more people will ride the subway home, then transfer to the bus at Minnesota Avenue. Metro's fare structure encourages this procedure because it requires that full fare be paid for both bus and subway when a rider changes from bus to train. However, passengers can transfer free within D.C. from subway to bus.
At New Carrollton, the rider is given far less choice by the Prince George's County government. Most of the through bus service from Bowie, Crofton, Lanham and other communities in the Rte. 50 corridor will terminate at New Carrollton Metro station and commuters will have no choice but to take the subway.
Metro has predicted that, after the bus schedule changes have settled, the Orange Line should add about 25,000 riders a day to the subway system. During the first two weeks, which included the Thanksgiving holiday, Metro's weekday ridership increased between 7,000 and 9,000.
"We really don't know how many bus riders are going to be affected by this change," said Robert Pickett, Metro's ridership expert. "Some of the buses are being changed from other subway stations to Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton, and some former bus riders are driving to the new parking lots at the Metro stations. It will be a while before it all settles down."
There are about 3,600 Parking spaces at the new Orange Line stations. The 1,900-space parking lot at the New Carrollton station has been filled every weekday since the line opened.
The Landover and Cheverly lots, which have a total of 1,500 spaces, have been between a half and three quarters full on weekdays.At Deanwood, where there are more than 200 paid parking places, the lot has drawn fewer than 20 cars a day. However, neighborhood streets around the Deanwood station are becoming increasingly crowded with allday parkers. A neighborhood parking ban is contemplated.