Dear PoP – yelling buses?

by Prince Of Petworth November 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm 36 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Wayan Vota

“Dear PoP,

I’m hoping you may have some idea on whats up with buses recently announcing loudly when they are making a turn – I haven’t seen/heard anything about it until it blasted my eardrums. We can hear the buses half a block away – a woman’s voice on what sounds to be a loudspeaker or bullhorn saying ‘PEDESTRIANS – BUS IS TURNING!’ & sometimes repeat in Spanish. I was reminded of this when the voice woke my husband & I (along with at least one neighbor dog) around 5:30 this morning.

It certainly isn’t every bus that has this, (last night I didn’t hear any while it was almost non-stop a few nights back) & those that do have it use it differently – some only yell the phrase once while others repeat it half a dozen times. This may be the result of the bus waiting to turn or if it is manually operated an overzealous user? Any insight you may have would be appreciated. I am all for a safer relationship between bus & pedestrian, & if this does it that’s great – I simply don’t think it needs to be at such a high volume!

PLEASE tell me this is test run & we will somehow be able to stop this from becoming permanent!!”

That’s crazy that you can hear it inside. Anyone else hear this? If so where? Is it a metro bus or a circulator? Do you know which bus line?

  • This has been discussed quite a bit the last few days:

    Unsuck DC Metro,


    and Greater Greater Washington

    all have information and opinion on this.

  • PG
  • am2o

    Could be worse, I have a bedroom right next to a bus stop. Seems like every bus at night shouts its’ designation and destination. All night, every night.

    No sleep for the wicked I guess. I wish they would turn the volume down though… at least between 9PM and 7AM.

    • 11th and Irving

      I have the same problem. It drives me CRAZY. I think they should definitely turn the volume down at least between 10PM and 7AM!

    • So, Just Sayin’

      Exactly. Me, too.

      The problem is, I think, the newer buses only, not the old buses.

      It is way, way, way too loud. “S2. Destination: Silver Spring Station.” There has to be an alternative to them having the volume on that set so high, especially at night.

  • cohi

    dont the pedestrians usually have the right of way when a bus is turning (unless the bus has a green arrow or the peds have a dont walk sign of course)? seems like the pedestrians should be yelling at the bus….

    • ah

      I love it — Metro’s solution to its drivers’ penchant for running over pedestrians is to have a loudspeaker saying “get out of my way, I’m coming through!”

      • cohi

        and with all this pedestrian safety stuff, why are you going to yell at the peds not to walk when they have a walk sign? so now are they allowed to walk when they dont have a walk sign?

        • Charle Nelson Reilly

          As my drivers Ed teacher once said, you may be right but you’ll be dead right.

      • Heather


      • WDC

        My thoughts exactly, ah. In fact, those were my exact thoughts three or four years ago, after those two women were killed in Chinatown, and within weeks all the buses had those orange running lights above the windshield. “Great… rather than getting better drivers, just give advance warning to pedestrians that a dangerous driver is headed their way!”

  • skeedattle

    When I read the part aboutu it waking you and your husband up, I was totally laughing. The volume must be beyond ridiculous.

    • anon

      I can confirm that it’s loud — I live close enough to a stop that I hear the recorded announcments in my house too. Doesn’t really bother me, but it’s completely unnecessary after a certain hour where competing traffic noise is minimal.

      • lei

        Yeah, there is a stop right outside of my house and the recordings are ridiculously loud. I can hear them inside with all the windows/doors closed.

        • Shaw

          If I hear “Destination, Georgetown University” one more time….

    • Potomac + Penn

      [op] It is just ridiculously loud – we laughed at it at first, but being woken up over a dozen times before 5:30am along with continuing throughout the day & night seemingly at random over the past couple of weeks has broken our funny bone……

  • Anonymous

    after reading the comments berrating PoP for not reading GGW, I just checked out the site and found this: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/7664/talking-buses-another-example-of-wmata-safety-theater/

    • Anonymous

      berating [blush]

  • Ragged Dog

    Is it yelling like a crackhead? Because that’s a skit-in-a-can.

  • cohi

    i’m not saying it’s wise to walk in front of a turning bus but why is metro sending the message that the walk signs dont really mean walk and the bus has the right of way when it doesnt?

    • DCster

      To combat this, DDOT needs to install speakers next to the walk signals that blare the announcement “BUSES – PEDESTRIANS ARE WALKING” whenever the light is white.

  • Yuppiehell

    I mean you really can’t blame WMATA for trying to mitigate it’s risk when you have people all over the city Jaywalking and standing in the middle of the street instead of the standing on the sidewalk. You see this stuff all of the time pedstrains waiting for a break in traffic to cross. I mean there is a flip side. There are plenty of stupid drivers as well. Hey I was victim of hit n run when i clearly had the walk sign while I was in the crosswalk. But all WMATA is doing is trying to do something to combat stupid people. So blame the dummies not Metro.

    • Tres

      Should we install these systems in every car? If it’s a valid preventative for buses, surely it would be ever more so for cars, as cars don’t have the alarmingly loud engines that buses do. I wonder how all the millions of non-professionally driven cars manage to avoid hitting people every day, without a voice warning?

      And I recall, the last bus death was clearly the driver’s fault. It’s foolish to think this will be effective in preventing the drivers from causing these accidents.

    • ah

      This point would be better if the system genuinely mitigated risk.

  • julia.m

    We have one of those double-decker tour buses that makes a turn about a block away from the house. Every morning, starting at 8am (including on weekend), I can hear them describing the historical significance of the neighborhood. From 6 floors up and a block away. Ugh.

  • DCdweller

    I am all about safety as well but this is ridiculous…the volume should definitely be down when the announcement is made that the bus is turning or at least turn the announcement off at night. The root of the problem is that there is no safety culture within WMATA- too many people who clearly hate their job and let the world know it. If they put a little more thought into what they are doing, collisions with pedestrians would be much more rare.

  • Goku

    The bullshit metro thinks of…..

    Its bad enough trains have the long door announcements, but please don’t make bus rides more annoying too…

  • Anonymous

    Seems to be a theme – I live at the corner of 14th and Columbia (there’s a Metro stop and a circulator stop right in front of the building). My roommate and I have both noticed that the buses seem to shout their destinations as well. We’ll hear a muffled “Route blah blah, destination…MOUNT PLEASANT.” Haven’t heard the “bus is turning” but that’s gotta be way worse than what I just described, which is already incredibly annoying.

  • John Rambo

    I haven’t heard this bus is turning thing yet but I’m sure I will. No joke- I can hear the DESTINATION MOUNT PLEASANT bunk with my windows and doors closed and BATHROOM DOOR closed. That’s right, I hear this crap in the shower every morning. So it must be either really loud or the acoustics surrounding it are bizarre. It doesn’t bother me too much, its sort of funny really

    • lei

      I can hear the bus in front of my house through the skylight in the bathroom.

  • mphs

    This damn announcement woke me up at 5:45 yesterday. And, I live pretty far from the corner!

  • K

    I read on GGW that Cleveland installed the same system on it’s buses. No to long after installation the bus drivers decided it was to annoying and just started making turns without turn signals (their announcements were triggered by activating the turn signal). So instead of increasing safety they had speeding buses taking corners without signaling. I give it 10 minutes before metro bus drivers discover this trick.

  • Pete

    One of the buses with these “PEDESTRIANS, BUS IS TURNING” announcement runs by my apartment and when it goes off it’s like someone’s in the room with you, speaking at a conversational volume. The S buses run by here as well and their announcements, while also audible from the aprtment, are nowhere near as loud. Turning them down, even over night or in residential neighborhoods, seems appropriate.

  • Bitter Elitist

    I used to live on top of the 42…the brakes, the idling, the acceleration were enough

  • Grammar Police

    “woke my husband and *ME*” :p

    • Potomac & Penn

      loud buses = no sleep = bad grammar…..what can I say…..


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