The transit authority is proposing to cut or modify several bus routes at the request of the District. In some cases, the changes would save money on what are considered under-performing routes. Others could improve the efficiency of service where buses are crowded and late.
The bus changes are part of the package of proposals that the Metro board is taking to the public for hearings this week. While the bus changes are relatively small compared to the proposed cut in weekend service, bus route changes are very important to the people who use those routes everyday.
So here’s a look at what’s proposed. Changes approved by the Metro board after this week’s hearings would take effect in September.
Georgia Avenue-Seventh Street Line. Shorten Routes 70 and 71 to operate between the Silver Spring and Archives Metrorail stations at all times and reduce peak period frequency.
Metro proposes cutting off the southern portion of the heavily used line and adding a new route, Route 74, to serve the area between Chinatown and Buzzard Point/Fort McNair.
The existing routes carry nearly 11,000 riders a day, making them among the highest-ridership routes in the Metrobus system. The problem, Metro says, is that the routes are long and spend a lot of their time stuck in downtown D.C. traffic, with the usual results: Some passengers get a very crowded ride. Many wait a long time for buses to arrive, only to see them arrive in bunches.
Shortening the route and widening the arrival times are standard tactics in attempting to make a bus line more reliable. In this case, all the buses would go by the 70 designation, and they would be scheduled to arrive every 12 minutes during rush periods, rather than the current 10 minutes.
The new Route 74 would operate from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Buses would travel between Chinatown and Buzzard Point every 18 to 20 minutes during peak periods and between Chinatown and Fort McNair every 24 minutes during off-peak periods. Route V8 would be rerouted to operate via Fort McNair and extended to Gallery Place Metrorail station after 8 p.m. on weekdays and weekends.
Southwest Washington fans of the Circulator bus route between the Convention Center and the Southwest Waterfront: That’s the route that the District Department of Transportation has targeted for elimination. This new Metrobus Route 74 would cover a lot of the Seventh Street portion of the Circulator route and passes near Arena Stage before heading east on M Street for a few blocks. It doesn’t travel along Water Street or Maine Avenue. Note also that service is less frequent than the 10-minute headways on the Circulator.
These changes, unlike others, don’t save the District money and are mostly intended as service improvements.
Chevy Chase Line. The plan eliminates the E6 route. Riders concerned about this one may want to attend Tuesday night’s hearing at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church, Fellowship Hall, 4125 Fessenden St. NW, in the District.
Metro says the route carries about 373 riders a day. Metro says riders could use this alternative service: Passengers on McKinley Street and Western Avenue can use Route E2, E3 and E4. Riders between Pinehurst Circle and Knollwood could use a proposed extension of the M4 route. (See below.) There would be no service along Western Avenue and Broad Branch Road between Pinehurst Circle and McKinley Street.
Nebraska Avenue Line. The M4 route would see a reduction in the off-peak frequency of service from 30 minutes between buses to 40 minutes. The route would be extended from Pinehurst Circle to the Knollwood Retirement Home via Western and Oregon avenues, following what is now the E6 route.
The District expects to save $385,000 annually by eliminating the E6 and widening the headways on the M4.
Takoma-Walter Reed Line. The K1 route would be eliminated. It carries an average of 459 riders a day, and that’s before the staff and patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are transferred to Bethesda under the base realignment program in September.
Metro says people going to the Walter Reed area on Georgia Avenue can use Routes 52, 53 and 54 from the Takoma Metrorail station or the 70, 79, S2, S4 and S9 from Silver Spring Station, but there’s no alternative service planned for the Blair Road area.
The District would save $365,000 annually from this cut.
Tenleytown-Glover Park Line. The N8 buses would be eliminated. Metro says they carry about 300 riders a day. The alternatives for riders on Massachusetts, Idaho, Cathedral, Nebraska and New Mexico avenues are Routes N2, N3, N4 and N6. Passengers in Glover Park can use Routes D1 and D2, Metro says. There would be no service on Yuma Street, New Mexico Avenue and Tunlaw Road between Cathedral Avenue and Edmunds Street.
The District would save $516,000 annually from this cut.
Here again, it’s the hearing on Fessenden Street that is the most convenient one for riders concerned about this line, although the Metro board will accept comments on route changes at any of the hearings.