Dear PoP – Demolition and 16th St. Bus Edition


I had a bunch of questions from readers looking for your help.

“I emailed some time ago regarding construction that was going on at the intersection of 13th and Taylor NW at the old autobody shop. With the help of your readers we determined that it was just removal of underground storage tanks as required by law.

Well..looks like they’re back at it again, but this time they are knocking the building down. I’d love to see if anyone can help me figure out what’s going on here since I live right across the street and have seen no permits filed.”

IMG_2006, originally uploaded by bankbryan.

“Have any other readers reported problems with the 16th street buses recently? It seems in the past week the number of buses have been cut in half. The buses are packed before they reach Spring Road it seems. My bus stop used to have one or two people boarding during rush hour, now its almost 20! My commute time has gone from 20 minutes to an hour.”

26 Comment

  • You know they were going to make express buses on 16th St. with some only making 9 stops. Not sure if that’s happened yet, but that could be what’s mucking up the works (if it’s just started they will need to work out the kinks). Just a possibility

  • This is happening over the last few weeks on the 14th street line as well. I board at Spring, and I’ve waited up to 25 minutes for a bus a few times recently. It never used to be like this. This week I started riding my bike to the metro since it’s nice out, but dang, I prefer the bus. But only if I can count on it to get me to work in a reasonable amount of time.

  • Adams Morgan, oh my/your god, that sounds awesome! There is no limit to how much I hate the fact the busses here stop every 50 ft!

  • I haven’t ridden the bus on 16th st for a few weeks now, but even when the buses came every 5-10 mins, they were always packed! i can’t imagine how it must be now, to wait 25 mins for a bus.

    On the weekends, those buses are awful! they never come on schedule, and when they finally do arrive, there are 2 or 3 at a time! makes no sense. Metro has some serious work to do.

  • I take the S to work every morning – northbound to Silver Spring. I hate to whine, but my commute is even worse than those who head downtown. We get a fraction of the buses that head south (I will wait for 20 minutes and count 10-12 buses going south, in bunches of course). I have called a few times to ask what the problem is, but nobody ever has an answer. It’s gotten progressively worse over the last few weeks.

  • This morning I was walking my dog on 16th from spring up to upshur, and there were loads of people at 7:30 at each bus stop along my way. Then five busses came all together, at about 7:45. Total crap. Seriously, 7:30 am on a weekday with no buses?

    I’m really happy that you posted this. I thought I’d been going insane over the last few weeks. This proves that something has happened. Is there a new employee policy? Is everyone calling in sick? Honestly, I can’t ride the bus to work anymore for lack of reliability.

  • Solives, you nailed it. It’s the lack of reliability that has me so frustrated. I have co-workers that drive and say they won’t take buses because they never know if they’ll get to work on time. I don’t have a car, so unfortunately I’m at the mercy of Metro. PoP, is there a way we can find out what going on?

  • I can atest that Express buses rule, I take the Georgia one myself. It is definitely fast and delightful for the most part. However, as a bus rider for over ten years in DC, its common for them to be totally screwed. You can email or call WMATA to discuss, and you get an amusing dialogue whereby you try to explain that buses aren’t coming as scheduled, no matter what the schedule says. It goes on for 5 – 20 minutes at least until you get angry and give up.

  • All, re. the work at 14th and Taylor. The ANC commissioner for that area, Joseph Vaughan, says he has not seen a permit for the work. He is looking into it.

  • “I’d love to see if anyone can help me figure out what’s going on here since I live right across the street and have seen no permits filed.”

    Sounds like another busy-buddy, nosy neighbor. Why don’t you run to the DCRA and complain like a weasel you are. Let them get stuck in DCRA’s perpetual runaround and stall the project for months.

  • “Sounds like another busy-buddy, nosy neighbor. Why don’t you run to the DCRA and complain like a weasel you are. Let them get stuck in DCRA’s perpetual runaround and stall the project for months.”

    Ummm, Thor, I think the permit helps give insight into what project is going on. The intent wasn’t to slow development to figure out what will be arriving as a neighbor.

  • I don’t know what the intent was but I know what the result will be. And now, with the ANC commissioner in the fold, I’m sure “we’ll get to the bottom of this”.

  • Thor: How do you know that there is a project to be stalled in the first place?

    My guess is that the church there is trying to expand.

  • “Knocking down the building” sounds like a project to me.

  • The former bldg was a unused gas station. Since there is no place to hang a permit, save the fencing around the lot, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have one. I too was curious about whats happening here, so I don’t see how inquiring about what the development is makes the inquirer a nosy neighbor. Making any use of the empty lot is good progress, no?

  • leave Thor alone; he’s merely getting at a problem that is ridiculously pervasive in DC: nosy neighbors and ANC types who like to gum up stuff. Remember, it took 18 months to get the apple store approved in georgetown. 18 months! and they settled on the original design scheme! I don’t blame him one bit for assuming that the neighbors want to get involved and slow down or halt whatever is going on there, even if I don’t agree with him. this happens way too frequently. that, and bad restaurants.

  • This is also a big probelm for the 42 and 43 buses. They are packed by 18th Street heading toward downtown. Also, the metro recently (in the past 6 months or so) has also become a zoo. I remember a few years ago when the 8:30 trains were not even closed to packed. Now you are LUCKY to even spot an empty seat.

  • The 16th St. bus has been very unreliable in the past few weeks. I board at 16th and Crescent and have seen several buses bypass the stop because they are too full already. I called metro and registered a complaint and they seemed responsive. If enough people complain they may be forced to really look at the problem.

  • saf

    Anon – no, they did NOT settle on the original design for the Apple Store.

    Nosy neighbors, “busy buddy” (note, the correct term here is “busy body.”) – hm, I think community is a better word. Yes, there is a line there, and yes, busy bodies are a PITA, but community makes the world go round.

  • Final Design

    Initial Design

    You can read the epic tale of how a group of PITAs took 18th months to walk in a complete circle right here:

  • I stopped taking the S buses because of their unreliability. I contacted WMATA after several days in a row of just ridiculously poor service. I was referred by WMATA to the “16th Street Bus Line Project” web site, which is still going on…the express buses should be starting soon. They will have only a dozen stops, and end at K Street.

  • I got a brochure today of service changes “Effective March 29, 2009”. It includes the S9 as one of the changes. Since the 29th is a Sunday, the S9 should start on Monday the 30th.

  • The S2/S4 buses make 82 stops between Silver Spring and Potomac Park/Fed Triangle. Although only going as far as McPherson Square, the S9 will make 14 stops.

    In principle this will save time but with increased ridership these buses might reach capacity early on which doesn’t bode well for riders further down the line.

  • The S line hasn’t been unreliable for the last couple of weeks. It’s been unreliable for the last couple of, I dunno, decades?

    The problems are many. Lack of supervisors making sure the drivers start their runs at the right time. Lack of supervisors spread throughout the route to observe whether the buses are on schedule. Drivers who leave the starting points in packs, in hopes that one bus will become full and their bus will be empty.

    The weekends are so bad because cars are allowed to park on 16th Street during the day on weekends, gumming it up from the District line to downtown. Ever wonder why traffic is so horrid (probably worse than rush hour on weekdays) on 16th Street during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. There you go. Don’t get me started on the churches

  • sorry, the churches whose members just love to park in bus zones.

  • 16th street buses. Just don’t understand why it is so bad. totally unreliable way to get to work.

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