[This post has been updated.]
The long-delayed bus and taxi hub next to the Silver Spring Metro and MARC stations on Colesville Road opened Sunday morning. There was no ceremony to disrupt travelers — all call more attention to the delayed opening. But at 4 a.m. Sunday, buses, which for many years had been using street stops on Wayne Avenue, Colesville Road, East-West Highway and Dixon Avenue, began moving into the center.
Metro and Ride On had plenty of cheerful and helpful staffers in the center and on the nearby streets to guide confused travelers. Most frequently asked question: Where’s my bus stop? Having those transit staffers on the scene all week to give out information and brochures will be crucial to the initial success of the center as bus riders discover that the old bus stops on the nearby streets now are blocked off with yellow caution tape and marked with signs directing them to the new bus hub.
Some travelers on Sunday morning were playing it smart: They came down just to inspect the center, figure out where the relocated bus stops are on the center’s first two levels and test the new Kiss & Ride area on the third level.
The big impact will come on Monday as commuter traffic returns to downtown Silver Spring. Drivers will need to watch for buses entering and exiting the center’s access points on Colesville Road and Ramsey Avenue. Watch also for confused pedestrians on their way to and from the transit center.
Metrobus will discontinue stops on the nearby streets for these routes: 70, 79, F4, J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, Q1, Q2, Q4, S2, S4, S9, Y2, Y7, Y8, Z2, Z6, Z8, Z9, Z11, Z13, and Z29. They will be relocated inside the center. See more details on Metro’s Web site.
Many Montgomery County Ride On buses will also have new stops inside the transit center. The Metro diagram at the bottom of the posting shows where Metrobuses, Ride On buses, the University of Maryland shuttles and taxis will be located inside the center. Note also that the Kiss & Ride area is on the top level, with its own entrance at the intersection of Ramsey Avenue and Bonifant Street. Also on the third level is the taxi stand, Enterprise car-sharing spaces, and bike lockers and bike racks. A Capital Bikeshare station is on the street just south of the upper level access point.
The main benefit of completing the project, begun in 2008 and delayed because of questions about the quality of the concrete, is to restore a focal point for all those scattered transit users. Silver Spring is a major regional hub not only for car-to-train transfers but also for bus-to-bus switches.
Bus drivers have been trained on how to use the transit center, but the riders haven’t. We may see unanticipated problems arise as travelers adjust to the new setup this week.
My main concern about the center, based on a Sunday morning walkabout, is with the use of the upper level. On the nearby streets, I spotted only one sign pointing the way toward the Kiss & Ride. I saw no signs marking the way to the bike storage areas.
At the access point to the upper level, I saw no signs designating who may enter or for what purpose. The upper level looks quite spacious on a Sunday, but the scene is likely to be quite different during a weekday rush. It’s important that the taxi line not extend farther back than the designated point, or that will block some of the Kiss & Ride spots. I counted a total of 12 regular Kiss & Ride spots on both sides of the center median, plus three spaces reserved for disabled travelers.
Avoid backing up in this area. If you need to go around, you can make a loop at the end of the concrete median.
But more directional signs need to be installed on the nearby streets and on the upper level to avoid confusion.