(Luz Lazo - Washington Post).
(Luz Lazo – Washington Post).

It won’t even come close to a reality for a few years, but that didn’t stop about two dozen riders from giving their suggestions at a Tuesday night forum about whether Metro should offer all-night bus service.

As part of a monthly meeting of the Action Committee for Transit, Jim Hamre —  Metro’s director of bus planning — took ideas and suggestions from riders on adding the service.

“The D.C. region isn’t the same as it was,” Hamre told riders, referring to the early days of Metro when it was mostly used by just commuters on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. He described the “night time economy” that now exists where waiters, janitors, dish washers and professionals working late at night need more options for getting home.

Some attendees at Tuesday night’s meeting said they’d like to see more buses running late at night for travelers coming from the region’s airport. Others worried that the all-night buses would be populated by party-goers.

Hamre said it would take a mix of people staying out late for night life activities and people getting off work to make the service economically viable.

“I think it would be really cool to have other options,” for getting around late at night after Metrorail closes, said Ronit Dancis of Bethesda, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting at the Silver Spring Civic Building. “If you’re stuck at the airport or a ballgame is running late — an all-night bus service is helpful.” She said it could also help people who have late-night jobs and may now be carpooling to get home. “It could be really exciting and offer a lot of people more options,” she said.

D.C. is one of the few major metropolitan transit systems that does not offer all-night bus service, according to Metro officials. Officials said they’ve heard from riders – many of whom work nights – who would be interested in all-night service.

Hamre said Metro will hold similar discussion groups around the region to figure out where it should add all-night bus service. There is no funding at this point to offer the service, he said, and it wouldn’t likely get funding until the fiscal 2014 or fiscal 2015 cycles he said. That means riders likely wouldn’t see the service start until 2016.

Metro now has eight bus routes that run along major corridors, mostly in the District, that run nearly all night. Some of those routes run along Wisconsin and Pennsylvania avenues, 16th and 14th streets and Georgia Avenue. The bus routes close down for roughly 30 minutes to up to two hours before starting again, Hamre said.