Do DC Bus Drivers Have a Deserved Bad Reputation?

Photo by PoPville flickr user dcienne

From Monday’s random reader rant and/or revel post:

“I’m fairly new to town, do DC bus drivers have a reputation of being nasty or is it just me? I’ve not had a pleasant experience with a single one. Including a recent ride where I was unsure of specifics and entirely ignored by the driver after asking him some four times if I was going in the correct direction. Even my pleas for a simple nod went unnoticed. I might add that it was way too early in the evening and me way to sober and polite to have been misconstrued as some prank by a drunk ass****, nor was the bus at all crowded.

I’ve spent the better part of my life between New York and New Orleans and have never dealt with such s***-bag transit workers. Well, except on Boston regional rail… Different story though.

Do all DC bus drivers hate the world?”

I’m more of a metro, bike, walker. So, for the regular bus riders – what have your bus riding experiences been like? I imagine that bus drivers probably have to deal with particularly stressful/difficult situations often. Do you think bus drivers get a bad rap?

114 Comment

  • HaHa! Yes welcome to DC. The Metro employees are union, they don’t give a sh*# and have bad attitudes. Get used to it, it won’t be changing. Bus or Rail makes no difference. Those who live here call it the “Marion Barry” syndrome.

    Just wait till you find out about Gentrification!

    • “Just wait till you find out about Gentrification!”

    • Yeah, rude metro employees (bus or rail) is not at all uncommon. I’d say in about 1/10 of my interactions with metro employees I’ve gotten some serious attitude. But then, that leaves a lot of neutral or even positive encounters, and you end up really appreciating the good ones.
      A Chicago city bus driver once stopped the bus to offer me a map when she could tell I was slightly lost. I remember thinking that would never happen in DC. Ah well.

      • houseintherear

        Chicago transit employees are fantastic.

        • Chicago Transit Employees are represented by ATU Local 308, New Orleans transit employees by Locals 1400 and 1560, and New York by TWU Local 100. Three supposedly good pools of employees all represented by labor, and two of them by the same national union as DC.

          Please don’t come at this with a “post hoc ergo propter hoc” argument that DC Metro employees are inept, rude, and bad at their jobs because they are organized and represented by ATU Local 689. To blame all of Metro’s failings on the union shows a fundamental misunderstanding, or downright bastardization of the way unions work. Metro’s problems go far deeper than the union. I doubt very much ATU is responsible for the no talking to the driver rule this person seemed to be following to the extreme.

      • I mostly ride my bike but when it gets cold I take the bus. I will say that there are some nasty bus drivers out there but then there are some that are FANTASTIC!!!! there is on on the G8 line that is not only a good driver but he will be a little flexible on where he stops to accommodate the rider. LOVE HIM!!!

        • Yeah, I think I know who you’re talking about. He’s a really accomodating driver.

        • if he accomadates and you slip and fall, thats his problem to deal with, and your ass will be somewhere else while he is in the supervisor’s office trying to save his job. you dumb fuck!

  • Metro bus drivers rock, no? (except the ones that run red lights and hit things). Though many do have the typical DC local attitude of “I have the right to punish you because I think you deserve it and I don’t give a $%^$ what you think.” Like driving away with not so subtle mumblings of hostility when they clearly can see someone running to catch the darn bus. (or in related world, not calling 911 when they have a riotous hate act going on in the station). But again, they all rock, can you imagine the *&$# they have to tolerate day in and day out?

  • Hmm. I ride the bus dailey. The drivers are either very nice or indifferent. Either way just fine by me. Sometimes people just have bad days. I wouldn’t sweat it

    • i think your experience is the exception. be grateful. dc bus drivers in general are unhelpful and often downright hostile

      • I disagree. I ride the bus at least twice a day and have never been treated with hostility. Some are indifferent but I have seen a number give directions and just saw one give two elderly women looking for the white house a free ride when they asked for walking directions and were just a few blocks away.

        • I also disagree….I’ve never had a bad experience on a bus. The bus drivers, are, at worst, indifferent. I’ve never been ignored when asking a question.

          Speaking of asking the driver a question/all these other requests of drivers, just remember: the bus is not your personal chauffeur. S/he does not have to answer your question because you don’t know where you are going. Also, if the driver stops every time someone is running down the street, that means the bus is late for every stop on the route, inconveniencing many more people than the one person who was late to the stop.

          Welcome to the big city, where it isn’t all about you.

          • Calling DC a big city is taking things a bit far. Big cities have buses running frequently enough on each line that there is no such thing as being “late to the stop.”

            I certainly feel a little hostility towards the one bus driver on the S line who always spends the whole ride down 16th st telling stories to customers and making loud small talk with them. Of course it means he’s always horribly slow and his bus is either jam packed or part of a bus convoy because other buses have caught up with him. Certainly there is a middle ground between chatty catty and jerkface.

      • Not my experience in the least. I experience “hostility” maybe once in six months of daily riding. And I take several routes.

        I’m not looking for a fluffy hug when I get on the bus, just efficiency. I have my stuff in order, I get on, I thank the driver when I get off, all very fine. I’m sure there are special cases but IN GENERAL, posts & comments here suggest folks are getting awfully thin-skinned in these enlightened times.

        • +1
          Like Intangible Arts, I’m not looking for hugs and rainbows on the bus, either. Just get me from point A to point B quickly and safely.
          1)I’ve seen DC bus drivers get endlessly splashed with umbrellas opening and closing in their faces on rainy days while passengers enter and exit the bus.
          2) I’ve seen them do their best to explain to domestic and foreign tourists the bus fare and the precise location of their destination.
          3) I’ve seen them make gestures of kindness towards those with walkers, wheel chairs and guide dogs (often times reminding the rest of the passengers to show some decency and make room to accommodate them when none of us should have to be told to do so).
          4)Finally, I’ve seen some very good natured drivers doing their best to make an over-crowded ride as smooth as possible.

          No, their not all angels but I’ve seen far more good from them than bad.

          • +1 this is not an easy job and i find that a vast majority do it well and are decently friendly. some aren’t, but that’s true about every profession in every place. some are absolutely great.

    • Another person who has never experienced hostility. I’m actually surprised by how nice most of the bus drivers are– it’s certainly not an easy job to manuever a huge vehicle throught the city.

  • I haven’t really run into obnoxious drivers, and I’ve ridden various buses as part of my commute since I moved to the District 7 years ago. Mostly they tend to be quiet, bored, distant and sometimes dangerously inattentive. What I like best, is that they don’t hit on me. This is a major improvement over bus drivers in other places I’ve lived. I have noticed that drivers seem to switch routes a lot, and seem clueless about the route (sometimes giving people totally incorrect info and arguing that they’re right).

    Mostly I worry about all the accidents drivers are involved in. I saw a bus run over a woman on Park Rd a few years ago and it was horrifying.

    • Agreed about the safety practices of DC bus drivers. I’m so frustrated by public buses running red lights. I walk to Farragut West every morning and nearly once a week a bus runs the light at 17th and K and ends up blocking the pedestrian crosswalk. As a result, pedestrians are forced to walk into the 17th street traffic to get around the bus.

    • I’ve nearly gotten plowed down by Metro buses a few times myself. Once I was crossing the street (in a crosswalk) in front of my office building in College Park when a Metro bus, I guess in an attempt to intimidate me, crawled to a stop about 2 feet from me and the driver gave me a death stare, like he was doing me a favor by not running me over.

  • i love dc bus drivers. considering all the bullshit they have to deal with, i think they’re saints.

    • I agree. I ride the bus almost every day (and have for two and a half years, to and from different neighborhoods) — pretty busy routes, where things can get crazy — and I’ve had the exact opposite experience of the emailer in the post. The majority of my drivers are friendly, a few are indifferent, and I can’t think of an example of one being out-and-out rude to me, or another customer. Yes, I’ve seen them close the door on people, but that’s because the bus literally couldn’t fit anyone else. More often than that, I see them letting tourists know when their stop is coming up, encouraging people in the back to make room for more passengers, and waving through people who have an empty SmarTrip and are out of cash. It’s impossible that I’m just THAT lucky.

    • I have had mostly positive experience with bus drivers. Even when my mom visits (English is not her native language) she asks the bus drivers for help, and they help her get places.

    • +1. These people have among the highest stress blue collar jobs in the area.

  • I think it’s a matter of perspective…the bus drivers know that their job is NOT to give you directions or be nice to you. Their job is to drive the bus. It’s not in their interest to encourage riders to talk to them, so if they are disinclined to do so, they will be gruff and discourage you. And I’m sure many have learned this by giving an inch to someone and having them quickly take a mile through harassment or plain chatty annoyingness- there are plenty of bored, slightly crazy people in DC who will talk to anyone about anything given the chance (I think this helps explain why the people in metro stations are usually pretty gruff too). Some drivers are friendlier than others (being individual PEOPLE and all) but my experience in asking the driver questions is that you should make it yes or no, and if that doesn’t work, just ask another passenger or listen to the disembodied bus voice. That’s all you’d have to go on if you were on the Metro anyway, and honestly, I think bus driving takes way more attention than driving a train. And sometimes if you back off respectfully rather than appearing demanding, they’ll take a second at a red light or in traffic to help you out.
    Of course, some drivers suck. And some are friendly and careful. And some are friends with every regular passenger on the route and chat with them to the peril of everyone on the bus and the road. But that’s the case with any job where people are involved…bus drivers are individuals, not some monolithic class of lazy unionized robots.

    • The bus driver know its NOT their job to give directions or be nice to passenger?


      I’m assuming you must work for Metro because you’re speaking so authoritatively on their job requirements. So with that in mind I’m going to help you out. Please alert you co-worker(s) at Metro responsible for the Metro career website becuase they mistakenly put this in the Bus Operator job description.

      “Courteously provide schedule, route, and fare information to passengers seeking assistance.”

      “Ability to deliver stellar customer service and communicate effectively and courteously even under adverse circumstances.”

      “Ability to professionally represent WMATA as a uniformed employee.”

      “Additionally, an individual in this role provides schedule and fare information, collects fares, and ensures the safe boarding and alighting of all passengers. The individual in this role must demonstrate a professional, pleasant, courteous and helpful demeanor towards the public at all times and must be able to maintain composure in stressful situations.”

      • Which flies directly in the face of “Do not talk to operator when bus is in motion”

      • John — You must be a pretty bitter person to go through the trouble of looking up the job description of a metrobus driver at 6:15am just so you can rip on them and the poster who wrote this.

        Take a step back, dude.

  • Bus drivers here are far more professional (using that term loosely) than in Boston. You’re lucky if they even stop (they actually expect you to flag them down and will berate you if didn’t and somehow manage to make them stop). More helpful drivers than unhelpful drivers, in my opinion.

    • God yes – I once had a T driver slap a token out of my hand because I was too slow in dropping it into the farebox (I’d been waiting outside in subzero weather for almost 1/2 an hour and my fingers were numb.)

  • Yeah, I’ve never had a bad experience with the drivers. They are all different just like, you know, people. Some are talkative some arent, some are having a bad day, some are annoyed and some are pretty friendly. Personally, they always look surprised when I say thank you to them as I get off the bus. So maybe its cause all they get is people yelling and griping at them, or asking to be let on for free when they dont have enough change.

    • +1. Never had a bad experience with a bus driver either, and plenty of times I see them helping people out.

      Agreed that they look surprised when thanked – my guess is that it doesn’t happen very often.

    • I agree. I find that a “good morning” when I step onto the bus and a “thank you” when exiting go a long way. But maybe that’s because I’m from the midwest.

  • Bus drivers are among the most consistently worst drivers in the city.

    • Come on, WMATA bus drivers are at least 2% consistently better drivers than most cabbies and diplomats here.

    • me


      It is very rare that I see a metro bus driving down a street and it actually stays in its f***ing lane. Drive down the middle of 2 lanes, making me go into oncoming traffic, because you don’t want to be behind a person parallel parking? Awesome.

  • Pleasantries from drivers I can take or leave – I’d settle for them crashing/hitting things less frequently:

  • That photo is great!

  • I find most Metro Bus drivers and Metro Rail workers to be extremely helpful and courteous when I ask them for help. Of course, I might it a point to be as succinct and brief as possible, and don’t try to chat their ears off or to be an otherwise annoying prat. But, as always, YMMV.

  • Never had one be rude to me, but some of them can’t drive worth shit and make riding the bus into an extremely rattling and unpleasant experience. Love having to hang on to the hand rail for dear life as they go from 30 to 0 in 2 seconds.

  • I ride the bus every workday, and have ever since I moved here 6 years ago. I’ve found the nice or indifferent applies.

    I’ve never been ignored when I greeted or thanked a driver getting on or off, and I’ve always gotten helpful, if not effusive, answers to any questions I have had.

    Of course, I use my computer or phone to figure out 99% of what I need to know beforehand – I don’t just hop on a random bus and announce I need to get somewhere and expect the driver to figure out the combination of routes, which I have seen and it makes me insane.

    Only once have I had a driver who was just a complete ass; shut the door in my face when the bus was almost completely empty. Chalked it up to him having a bad day and hopped a cab.

  • I’m impressed with DC bus drivers. They have a heckuva job. They have to make sure people pay their fare when boarding. Given the twentysome different fare passes and cards, it’s no small feat. They have to make sure nobody is slipping through the back door. Make sure nobody is fighting or carrying contraband. Accommodate the elderly and handicapped. Then they have to navigate a bus on roads that were never designed for automobiles with pedestrians, and cyclists jetting in front and around them. Not to mention navigating through bus stops planted every 200 yards. (Stupid!). And they get reprimanded for making any mistakes determined to be their fault. People talking to them is a big distraction. If you want a pleasant bus ride, take the B30 BWI express from Greenbelt to BWI. It’s a relaxing route and the drivers will chat with you then. They have no stops, so they lighten up. Otherwise, you can ask any person riding the bus for directions. People are friendly and knowledgeable, and they’re just riding the bus, not driving it. Also, use the brilliant WMATA transit app if you have a smartphone. It will change your life.

  • I think at least 95% of DC bus drivers are courteous and helpful. The experiences I’ve had with rude bus drivers here could be split 80/20 into those that seemed to be worked up by even more rude riders, and then a few instances of unattributable dickheadedness. Not really all that much differently distributed from encounters with the population at large.

  • It’s a terrible job.
    Some of them are nasty some of them are nice.

  • The drivers hate us because of our freedoms.

  • When I lived in Portland I was floored at the friendliness of Portland bus drivers. Every single one was ready to answer questions about stops, streets, and routes. None gave me attitude. So many were nice I concluded this must be part of their job.

    Their jobs are very stressful here though. Traffic sucks. DC bus drivers and subway drivers are better than they once were. The more the system is digitally linked the better. Now we get information by intercom, recorded stop announcements, phone and internet so it’s also better.

    Try to imagine that there were not announcements before — and not on the bus. On the subway it used to be absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to understand any drivers. The accent or whatnot was too strong. This is an international city full of tourists. It was stupid. It’s much better now, and the announcers are waaaay more articulate.

  • Bus drivers are great! Sure, occasionally one will be a little grouchy, but everyone has bad days. I am grateful that they do their job, day and night, all year long…

  • Terrible. My favorites are the ones who talk to their girlfriends directly under the “Do not talk to busdriver” signs.

  • A driver’s job is to focus on their driving, not being your friend. That being said, I’ve rarely come across a rude or surly bus driver in DC. Most are polite, a few are distant, and many are quite friendly if the bus isn’t full or the road conditions aren’t a mess.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’ve found the WMATA bus drivers to be pretty surly. I’m sure it can be a stressful job, but the Circulator bus drivers I’ve encountered are nice and helpful. They always take a moment to reassure tourists they are getting on the right bus or to tell them which bus they should be getting on, since multiple buses stop at the same stop.

  • When Howard Stern was on DC101, he had a song parody called “Metro Bus” (to the tune of The Who’s “Magic Bus.”)

    The only lyric I remember is:

    I was short just one coin
    Metro, Metro bus
    And the driver kicked me in the groin
    Metro, Metro bus

  • i have had predominantly nice drivers. if you smile and say hi/thanks they always respond with “have a good day/night” or whatever. i think you should be nicer to them maybe since you seem to have a bad string of experiences? or maybe just randomly got a bunch of jerks…

  • I ride the bus an awful lot, and I’ve only experienced the very occasional rude driver. Almost always, they’re exceptionally polite, which I give them credit for, considering some of the bulls*&% they deal with on a daily basis. Even at just the Florida and North Capitol stop on the 90s route. Seen way more than my fair share of fights break out on the bus just right there.

  • DC bus drivers are fine… so long as you’re safely inside the bus. If you’re on a bike or in a car that has to share the roadway with DC buses, they’re terrifying. Dear DC bus drivers: having your turn signal on does not make the vehicles and bicycles in the lane next to you suddenly evaporate. Please allow your fellow travelers time (at least more than 1 second) to avoid your big red ass. Alas, it seems the DC bus drivers will continue to live by their long-held motto: “Fuck it, I’m going.”

    • i’ve never driven a bus, but i’m gonna guess “fuck it, i’m going” sort of comes with the territory. those things are big!

    • The problem vehicles of that size have is that people hate to let them in. So often the only option left is to amp up the aggressiveness. When I’m driving near a bus, I’m always anticipating whether they’ll need to switch lanes. If most drivers were aware and courteous, you’d never see a bus doing that.

    • Technically the law is that all vehicles have to yield to the bus pulling away from a stop. But this does not make it any less terrifying.

  • I don’t agree that bus riders in this city are rude. Some are, most of them are not. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a city (outside US) where bus riders are REALLY rude,I mean, really really rude. The ones here seem nice to me. Like another post said, either nice or indifferent. In the past 11 years here a few have been rude, but that’s the minority.

  • Some bus drivers are rude, some bus drivers are polite. Hard for me to say which is more predominent since I only take 2 or 3 routes. I will say that the Circulator drivers are more consistently polite, helpful and accomodating, from my personal experience.

    • I’m not up in NYC often but I do have one experience that stands out. Early evening on a weekend, I got on the bus and didn’t realize I couldn’t use dollar bills to pay for my ride. The bus driver said he would wait while I went and got change from a deli right next to the stop. I was shocked to the point that I had to ask him to repeat what he said, just to make sure I heard him right. I started to go in to the deli but decided it was actually rude to the other passengers on the bus, so told him it was ok and I’d just get the next one. But he was literally waiting for me as if it was my personal ride and did not seem the least bit indignant. Probably a unique case, but helped remind me that bus drivers are individuals and that just because you get some really shitty ones doesn’t mean they all are. So I try to give them the benefit of the doubt most of the time and just ignore the crusty ass holes.

  • Some are nice, some are not. My favorites among the ‘nots’ are 1) the middle aged woman who frequently drives the H1 bus, and talks shit to boarding passengers who ask “is this the H1?” Please note, the sign on the H1 is (or at least was) frequently broken, and 2) the many 42 drivers who stop at Conn and Q Street, and just leave. Sometimes there is another driver waiting to take over. Sometimes you’ll just wait around for 5-10 minutes until the new guy arrives.

    Really though, these things aren’t that terrible and I’d happily put up with surly drivers if the buses were just more reliable.

  • I’ve never ridden the bus, so as to that I cannot comment. But, they generally seem to be respectful when I ride my bike and am in the bike lane… much more so than in New York.

    But, I’ve had mostly good experiences with employees on the subway system. The only real bad experience was when the conductor saw me with a stroller and closed the door on the stroller and laughed. Ah good times!

    Otherwise, employees seem pretty decent. I’ve actually used the intercom system, and not only did the intercom work, but someone actually responded! Amazing to me, but I think my expectations have been set quite low by New York’s MTA employees.

  • I used to love the bus drivers here, until one got out of his bus and assaulted me.

  • I’m glad to see most people here have had the same experience I have. I ride the bus pretty frequently, and it’s typically busy lines (X2, 90/92/93) and I would say about 70% of the drivers are friendly, 29% are indifferent, and 1% are rude. Considering the way some riders treat them and considering other things they have to deal with on the bus, I’d say those are pretty good numbers!

  • I have a hard time believing that anyone who’s talking about all of the “sh*t-bag transit workers” in DC is really as polite in person as he claims to be. Sometimes you get back the attitude you deserve.

    I don’t ride the bus often, but have always had friendly to indifferent drivers.

  • We have a bus driver on the S-buses who is the nicest guy. Big talker, always says hi to me, my wife and our baby. I carry him in a pouch on the bus, so he used to say, “She carried him for nine months, now you can too!” Or something to that effect.

    So, bad drivers are out there, but so are nice guys.

  • I’ve only ridden metro bus a few times (mainly to/from BWI or IAD), but had an terrible encounter with a metro bus driver on 7th St NW, near the convention center, about a month ago.

    I was riding my bike north (towards Petworth!) and the bus was definitely driving faster than necessary and faster than I typically see other cars or buses drive in that area. Although he sped past me at a fairly close range, I didn’t think too much of it (other than being mildly annoyed). However, soon after that I saw the bus almost side-swipe another bicyclist who was ahead of me.

    Eventually, I caught up to the bus and pulled up to his window, while he was loading passengers. I politely told him that he almost hit the other guy and should be more careful, since he also came pretty close to me. He told me to get off the road (keep in mind there are bike lanes on this part of 7th St) and then drove off, at full acceleration, while I was standing immediately beside the bus, trying to talk to him. The bus, of course, hits me (technically, my bike tire).

    I call 911, which transfers me to metro. Give them the bus number (not the route number, but number painted on the bus) and told the guy what happened, but it seemed like they didn’t care that their bus driver is literally trying to run over bicyclists in the bike lane and actually ran his bus into my bike.

    So yeah, metro bus drivers suck!

    • one experience with one driver. you admittedly don’t interact with metro bus drivers very often. but you’re willing to say “metro bus drivers suck!” i don’t get it.

      i ride to and from work everyday, think the bus drivers do a pretty good job of working with bikers not to get into each others hair. i give the thank you waive when they let me get past, goes a long way.

  • I ride the bus every day and they are just like any random pool of people. Some are nice, some are indifferent and other rude. Thankfully most fall into the nice pool.
    My only bad experiences are knocking on a recently shut door to have it opened – don’t do it driver hate it and will get real nasty with you.

    My one compaint is DC Metrobus drivers never stop if a passenger is running for the bus. In Seattle they do that almost religiously.

    • Hmmm…Perhaps this not stopping thing is dependent on line/driver? Drivers on the X2 frequently hold the bus for me when I’m running for it in the morning!

    • I know that it sucks to *just* miss the bus, it happens to me all the time, but I have to say that bus drivers should not be encouraged or obliged to wait for folks who are running to catch the bus.

      Not only that, but it’s totally unfair to judge them negatively for not doing so; if they do, then great, bonus for you, but if they don’t then oh well, sometimes it goes like that.

      • A driver told me they are not supposed to wait for a running passenger – it discourages people from running across traffic to get a bus. I see that at Mass and Wisc. aves regularly.

  • I mainly ride the 64……. For the most part, all the drivers are very nice.

    There is only 1 guy in particular that stands out as being pretty horrible. He drives like a bat outta hell…. is surly and I have seen him get into arguments with customers several times.

    He is definitely the exception but he is bad enough every time I wait at the bus stop I hope he is not my driver.

    • I take the 64 and know exactly who you’re talking about!

      • Funny. I normally don’t get motion sickness at all but I’ll be damned if I don’t feel queasy after getting off the bus when he is the driver.

        I kind of get the feeling he has been driving for a long time and just doesn’t give a shit…. I am sure he has his fair share of passenger horror stories.

  • DC bus drivers have to deal with DC residents. I think it’s completely appropriate for the drivers to show a little tough love to the people I see completely screwing with the concept of “public space.”

    There’s a reason why the meanest waiters make the most money. You really can’t confuse a public transaction with a private interaction. The former is based on efficiency, the latter on affection. If you want love, call your mom; leave the bus driver and everyone else on your commute out of it.

  • Is the photo really of a metro bus driver? Doesn’t look like the M patch. Wonder which transit line it really was?

  • 9 of 10 bus drivers in DC have been very friendly with some of those 9 being extraordinary.

  • In my experience, DC bus drivers are anywhere from OK to excellent. A handful over the years have been unpleasant, but I would say the same about the waiters, store clerks, police/fire/military personnel, doctors, taxi drivers and so on that I have encountered in this city.

    *If* they have a bad reputation (do they?) then it is probably not deserved. I find that most bus critics I’ve talked with are expecting too much and haven’t really thought about what it must be like to drive a bus in this city. If anything, I’m surprised that most bus drivers aren’t screaming crazy people.

  • I have tremendous respect for DC bus drivers. They have a hard job driving a huge vehicle with dozens of lives on board and cars zipping around them. I agree with other posters that the rude bus driver is the exception, not the rule.

    My experience is that if you are friendly to them, they’re more likely to be friendly to you. Just a smile and a quick ‘good morning’ will get you pretty far. I’ve even seen someone in front of my get kicked off because his smartrip was low, but when mine came up low after I’d asked the driver how her day was going, I got waved on.

    Just remember that bus drivers are indeed people. Say hi or at least smile when you get on, and say thank you when you get off. It’s pretty simple.

  • I haven’t ridden the bus in years but I don’t recall any friendly drivers, ever.

    IMO, they generally rate high on the asshole scale for their driving, unsafe–and too often, fatally so–for everyone on the road and passengers on board to boot.

    I get it that they have to nudge their way into traffic or be stuck at the stop forever. I get it that they have schedules to keep. But I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been nearly run over by a Metro bus, whether on foot, on a bike or in a car. I swear they’ve been trained to simply ignore other vehicles or pedestrians and assume that all will simply get out of the way. They will speed, bogart lanes, run lights, tailgate, ignore pedestrian crosswalks–all with impunity.

    They are infuriating and frightening and if Metro were really serious about changing their image from poorly-run death trap, they could start with the way those buses are operated.

  • For all that the bus drivers have to deal with I find them to be friendly. Although if you are doing things that delay their bus they may be short with you but I find if you are kind to them they are the same back. A few simple rules to follow when riding the bus will save you from drivers being pissed off. 1. let people off the bus first 2. if you need to put money on your card let others who don’t go on first 3. thank them when you get off

  • I live by the Eastern Market station, and I’ve seen them hit the gas in the direction of jaywalking pedestrians. Yes, they shouldn’t jay walk, but the bus shouldn’t swerve out of its lane to hit them either.

    • Jaywalking when there is a large vehicle heading toward you is a pretty stupid thing to do, yet I see it happen all the time in DC. It bugs me that drivers seem to be expected to slow down to accommodate jaywalkers.

      • It’s because we live in a city of transplants. No joke, in the midwest the traffic will come to a dead stop as you approach the street to cross, regardless of whether you’re at a crosswalk/intersection or trying to cross at a random point in the middle of the street.

        • Well I don’t remember things being like that when I lived in St. Louis for four years. Regardless, that doesn’t sound like a reasonable compromise between personal safety and efficient movement of traffic within a city to me.

  • That’s impossible! Most WMATA employees can’t read!

  • Once in a blue moon I’ve had a bad experience, but for the most part I’ve found DC bus drivers to exceptionally friendly and helpful! I think you have to remember that drivers are just people who happen to have to deal with a lot of jerks and idiots–they’re bound to get cranky sometimes. For example, every time I’ve had to add money onto my card on the bus (which I try not to do since it’s so inconvenient) the drivers have always been very understanding even though it must be a pain.

  • PoP, it sounds like 1) dc bus drivers don’t have a bad rep and 2) if they do, they as a group don’t deserve it. it’s really not an easy job and most do it pretty admirably.

  • My only bad expereince, which was really more odd than anything else, was when I pulled the cord for my stop and saw that the bus clearly wasn’t about to slow down. I ran to the front and asked the driver if he could please stop at the next stop, and he completely ignored me.

  • not what i took away from these comments but thanks for your biased attempt at a summary, 11th

  • Considering how much harder it is to drive a bus than to operate the Metro train, I’m surprised at how cooperative and helpful most bus drivers are, and I am continually astounded at the callousness of the rail drivers. Too often I see them deliberately start closing the doors before passengers have all left the cars, much less wait for people to board. Metrorail has myriad communication issues for the daily traveler too numerous to mention here, but let’s start with the train drivers and make them at least wait until people get off. Please?

  • Bus drivers in DC HAPPEN to be very sweet to me.

    I don’t know what’s wrong with y’all! You must be total a-holes to them!

    Where your appreciation at for hardworking people who transport you around!

  • Union or not has little to do with it. Wall street and the mortgage industry managed to hose this whole country without a single union employee.

    Can you hold yourself to the same standards of friendliness and willingness to help strangers that you expect from the bus drivers?

    I visit D.C. every other week for work, and find it amusing the lengths people will go to in order to avoid interaction with other pedestrians — even simple courtesies.

    Too, we’re all good at ignoring the homeless and mentally ill wandering our freezing streets.

    Next time you get on the bus, smile. Say hello to the bus driver. Treat them like compatriots and not servants. Most are reflecting the “you don’t matter, just drive the darn bus, I’m tired, distracted and not interested in you — unless I need something.” attitude they get from the majority of passengers.

    Your attitude toward them matters more than you know.

    So quit bitching and smile. You’re better off than 99.8% of the people on this planet.

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