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New bus line planned for the District’s booming 14th Street corridor

Many new stores have opened in recent years near the intersection of Columbia Road and 14th Street NW in Columbia Heights, changing the look of the neighborhood. (The Washington Post)

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Wednesday plans to announce the launch of a new bus route on 14th Street, one of the busiest corridors in the region’s bus system.

Bowser’s proposed budget includes $1.2 million for operation of the No. 59, which will provide limited-stop service between the Takoma and Federal Triangle Metro stations starting in December.

The new service is in response to increased demand for more bus options in a booming corridor of the District, where riders have long complained about crowding and bus unreliability. With ridership of about 15,000, the 14th Street routes 52, 53 and 54 are some of the busiest and most crowded in the region.

But as the overall quality of Metro service has declined in recent years, the 14th Street routes also have lost riders, transit agency data shows. City officials hope the addition of the 59 will help bring old riders back and attract new ones.

“As our city continues to grow, it’s becoming even more important for us to ensure that our entire transportation network is dependable and safe,” Bowser said in a statement. She said enhancements to bus service, especially in corridors like 14th Street, are critical to continuing to provide the transportation options residents need.

“We are taking another significant step forward in ensuring that this progress continues,” she said.

Metro launches bus line to link NE residents to downtown D.C.

For years, 14th Street bus riders have complained that the current service is too slow. Buses have too many stops, are crowded, delayed and often arrive in bunches.

The addition of limited-stop service, known as MetroExtra, will provide faster trip for many customers because the buses serve fewer stops than the regular buses. It will also help relieve some of the crowding on the 52, 53 and 54, officials said.

MetroExtra has proven to be effective in delivering faster and more reliable service, officials say. In other corridors such as 16th Street and Georgia Avenue, the introduction of limited stop routes have spurred ridership.

Along 14th Street, riders had been asking for a MetroExtra route for years after taking notice of the success in neighboring corridors, said Sam Zimbabwe, a top D.C. Department of Transportation official. Some riders even walk to 16th Street to take advantage of that service.

The plan is to run 59 every 15 minutes during morning and evening rush hour.

Bowser’s budget also allocates funds for enhancement to the W4 route, in Southeast Washington.