At one time or another, probably every bus commuter in the Washington area who has ever waited through 10 stops in as many blocks has dreamed of commandeering a Metrobus and taking it where he wants to go, when he wants to go.

Although it didn't happen in rush hour traffic, last week someone did just that and took Metrobus 8604 to Brunswick County, N.C.

Police said yesterday that Metro officials hadn't realized the bus was gone.

"We're going to send someone down {today} to pick it up," Metro spokesman Al Long said.

According to a D.C. police report and Sgt. Wendell Bennett of the county sheriff's department in Bolivia, N.C., the bus was last seen at Metro's "bus barn" in the 4600 block of 14th Street NW.

Bennett said a check was run on the bus license plates after it was found parked along a highway in Bolivia on Friday, but "nothing came back." When authorities called Metro, he said, "they got to checking around . . . and {then} they said it was stolen. That's when we pulled it in until they can come get it."

"It was hard to believe that {Metro} didn't know it was there," he said.