39 Comment

  • They just scroll through lots of times. I’ll even see buses scheduled for the next day, then it just scrolls up to show one 2 minutes away. I think they need to change the signs so they only show the next 4 or so buses.

    • +1. Their current system for displaying times is idiotic — it ought to show (say) the next 6 buses, and show buses beyond that ONLY if the next bus for a given route isn’t within that list of 6 buses.

      • Accountering

        Totally agree… The bus stops on GA Ave are particularly bad (or just particularly noticed…) I don’t need to know when the next 14 70 busses are coming.

    • +1 it makes most sense to show the next x number (say 3 – 4) of buses

  • I was going to say the same thing, DC. From what I can tell, they scroll through all buses for the next hour which isn’t all that useful during rush hour. Showing the next 8-10 max (to make sure you’re picking up all relevant lines) would be an improvement.

  • those screens are beyond useless. I don’t know what system they are using. i just use nextbus on my phone. In London, the bus display times are accurate and appear to use the same system — there must be some setting that’s messed up.

    • Yeah — the display system for buses in London is great; the one here is ridiculous.

    • Those screens show the same times that are in nextbus. The difference is that nextbus just shows you the next bus (or two), whereas those screens scroll through the next 3 or 4 or 5 and in some cases the first bus the next morning.

    • justinbc

      Even Nextbus is grossly unreliable. Sometimes I wonder if the drivers just disable their GPS.

      • One thing to remember: a bus driver has a lot more variables to deal with, scheduling-wise, then a train driver.

        Train driver knows that he/she will be stopping at each stop. There may be a pause in the tunnel for congestion if the train ahead is slow to unload, but generally the train driver has a clear path.

        Bus driver may or may not have to stop at each stop; may or may not have to load/unload a disabled passenger (adds a good bit of time), may or may not hit traffic or construction, may or may not hit every single red light (or every green one).

        I tend to cut the bus drivers a little slack. Unless they skip my stop because they’re behind schedule.

  • Even so, the times on all of the nextbus apps and the tickers are just estimates…on average the busses run about 8 minutes late. My nextbus will say 4 minutes, and more often than not, it’s several more than that.

    Although, the one time you decide to cut it close, is ultimately the one time the bus is zipping through early.

    • I don’t think that’s true – at least not for the routes I ride, I leave my house when the bus is 2 minutes away and get there as it’s pulling up every morning.

      • I’ve been to some metrobus open houses and they told me as much, and a friend also created their own tracking system for a different line, and the results were the same. I’m sure many of the lines differ though, and there are a ton of variables… so this is just my experience.

        Also, a depressing factoid I got from an open house…on the 63/64 bus lines, the bus is only moving during its route 25% of the duration of the trip. (hopefully I worded that correctly)

      • It’s not true for more regular routes, like the S line and the 50 line. It’s definitely true for lines like the D and H lines. I’ve waited as long as 10 minutes for “arriving” buses on those routes.

    • It’s an estimate based on the actual bus location. It’s generally very good but can be off in some high traffic areas and times. I catch the bus in Chinatown sometimes and 3 minutes can mean 10. In general it very accurate.

      • Yeah – people need to realize that the bus apps tell you how far away the bus is AT THAT MOMENT. If the app says 4 minutes, it doesn’t mean that the bus will arrive in 4 minutes. It may say that the bus is 4 minutes away for 10 minutes since it’s basically resetting every second. I just try to take an existential approach to it….

        • Stop being an apologist. Metro has the data to provide more accurate arrival times. If the previous bus took 10 minutes to travel 4 blocks because of traffic then why would the tell you the next bus would be able to travel the same 4 blocks in 2 minutes? The estimates can easily be improved. It’s a shame that WMATA is just too lazy and incompetent to do so.

  • This isn’t necessarily the time for the next 80 or P6 bus to reach the stop. At least for my bus stop, the sign projects several arrival times for the same bus line. So the 80 could be coming in 3 min, 33 min, and 40 min, and sign will keep cycling through all of those times.

  • I agree with others that the implementation of these screens was TERRIBLE. They should be laid out like this:
    Route, Destination, Time, Time, Time

    80 Fort Totten 8, 24, 40
    P6 Rhode Island Ave 10, 15
    64 Petworth 1, 3, 5

    AND they should be able to fit all of the routes on a SINGLE screen. It’s 2015 – metro really couldn’t have sprung for screens with a resolution high enough to display 5-6 lines of text??

  • haha! The perspective is…well at least WMATA sucks way worse at the bus system?

  • Yeah I never really understood why on weekends they show the buses that only run Monday through Friday. It seems like only showing the most current bus schedule (for that day only) would make sense.

    • Yikes! They do that too?? It’s even worse than I thought.
      It’s hard to understand the mindset of whoever came up with this system. Obviously they didn’t test it, but you’d think someone would have noticed somewhere along the line that if there are six 70 buses coming in the next 50 minutes, you don’t need to know about any other than the first one or two.

  • If you press the “hear wait times” button, the sign will reset, giving you the numbers/wait times of the closest buses.

    • I never would have thought to try that. Thanks.

    • Is there a way to stop the “hear wait times” function, or does this approach subject everyone at the bus stop to listening to the bus schedule for the upcoming 60 minutes? I’ve had this experience a few times, never wanted to push the “hear wait times” button again for fear of making it start over….

  • I know people complain a lot about WMATA. However, I think it’s really the cleanest subway system I have encountered. The bus drivers are good for the most part and there are really a lot of options for those of us toward the center of the city. Granted that we pay high rent, but I’m near 5 different bus lines, in additional to a metro stop. NEXTbus is not the best, but it’s often a good gauge. I’m not saying there’s no improvement needed, but I think people complain too much.

  • As a P6 rider, I can say this wait isn’t totally unrealistic for the next bus. Not as much during rush hour, but there are plenty of times I’ve checked and it’s over half an hour until the next bus.

    • Literally just checked online/app and at 8:30, there is a 48 minute wait for the next P6 to RIA Metro. I wouldn’t assume these screenshots are unrealistic.

  • I’ve found that NextBus on my phone is accurate, but the display at the stop near my house has never been correct. I always love when people come to the stop, look at it, then push the audio button in hopes that they’ll have better luck with it. Wrong!

  • Look on the bright side–nobody is getting beaten and stabbed.

    Wait a minute . . .

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