The Nov. 4 Metro article on Metrobus mixed essentials with amenities ["Metrobus Leaves Passengers Wanting a Lift; Better Service, Shelters, Information Sought"]. If the transit authority wants to attract bus riders, it has to improve essentials.

Do we really need a real-time information system? That would be a pleasant amenity, but most buses already run on schedule. When a bus fails to show up, it's usually because it has broken down. The transit authority should hire enough mechanics to keep the buses in good repair.

Should every bus stop have a shelter? The stop I use would require installing a shelter in someone's front yard. And seven shelters on my route have been demolished by out-of-control cars.

Does every bus need global positioning devices? No. What about a working farebox instead? Too many bus rides have been "free" because the farebox was broken.

Should each bus stop have lighting fixtures? That would be nice, but rather than curse the darkness I bought a pocket-size flashlight. Bus drivers always see me.

I wonder about D.C. transportation director Dan Tangherlini's ignorance regarding where the buses in front of his house "come from or where they go to." Why doesn't he check the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Web site? It allows visitors to scope out routes and see how to get within walking distance of a destination.

The bottom line is that those who want to use the system figure it out. Those who don't want to use public transportation complain about the system's problems. For them, the system will never be good enough to use.




I rode Metrobus almost exclusively for four years while I lived on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s.

On the whole, I was able to time my arrival at a bus stop with a bus's imminent arrival, and the buses went to where I needed to go, while Metrorail often did not. When I moved to Falls Church, I continued to use the bus. When I moved to Arlington, I found a bus stop right down the street, and the bus takes me to the Rosslyn Metro station.

Using public transportation means giving yourself a little more time to get to where you need to go and getting used to sharing your space. It also means losing control over your time in this day and age when so many are militant about keeping that control.

But the satisfaction of using public transportation outweighs the occasional inconveniences, such as rain and late buses. I enjoy saving the environment the cost of one more car on the road and having the opportunity to read the paper in the morning while someone else drives.