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“District Funds Limited-Stop Bus Route to Address Travel Challenges Along the 14th Street Corridor”

by Prince Of Petworth March 29, 2017 at 10:00 am 36 Comments

14th st traffic
Photo by PoPville flickr user wolfpackWX

From the Mayor’s Office:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced funding for the much-anticipated MetroExtra Limited Stop bus route on the 14th Street corridor.

“As the District continues to grow, so must our public transportation options,” said Mayor Bowser. “Moreover, our Administration is committed to inclusive prosperity so that residents in every corner of the District benefit from our growth. The new Route 59 is part of our ongoing efforts to enhance service and give residents more options to get to work, school and beyond.”

The new 59 route will serve the area between the Takoma Metrorail station and the Federal Triangle Metrorail station. The limited-stop bus service will operate in addition to the existing 52, 53, and 54 bus services. The route will initially operate every 15 minutes during weekday rush hours. The estimated operating cost is approximately $1.2 million annually. If approved in the budget, the funds will be in place in October 2017, allowing the 59 to begin service when the next Metrobus service adjustments occur in December 2017.

“We are grateful for Mayor Bowser’s support for MetroExtra service along the 14th Street corridor, which has been a long-sought-after improvement for residents, commuters, and businesses,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld. “Today, the 14th Street buses carrier more average weekday passengers than any other line in the District, and the addition of faster, limited-stop service will mean a more convenient trip at the same price as regular bus service.”

“I’m pleased Mayor Bowser continued her strong commitment to public transportation in the District by dedicating funds to establish a new 14th Street NW express Metrobus line,” said Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. “We’ve seen enormous growth along the 14th Street corridor over the past 15 years, and this express bus will help alleviate crowding and provide better service for riders.”

Through substantial development and growth, the 14th Street corridor has become one of the most heavily traveled routes in Washington, DC, with more than 15,000 trips taken in the corridor daily. The new service is designed to reduce overcrowding and provide faster trips.

The FY2018 budget also includes funds to improve bus service in the W4 corridor in Wards 7 and 8 which operates between the Deanwood Metro Station and Anacostia Metro Station on South Capitol Street, Alabama Avenue, Southern Avenue, and Benning Road.

“14th Street is a major corridor and today it gets the better, more efficient bus service it needs,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau. “As the population along 14th Street continues to grow, this express bus service will ease congestion and help improve the transportation options available to residents. I’d like to thank Mayor Bowser for getting the funding to provide this needed improvement.”

“I am excited to have worked with Mayor Bowser and the community to ensure that Ward 4 will now have an express bus line on 14th Street,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd. “This new express line is yet another example of how our government and the community can work together to address pressing transportation needs.”

  • LGformerlyofMTP

    As someone who lives near U St and works in Takoma, this is the best news I’ve hears yet today.

  • I will be psyched if this goes through!

  • just my opinion

    This is exciting news and I hope the funding comes through. My next wish is more frequent G2 service or other more direct ways to make it cross town from the 14th Street area. I miss the old $.25 U Street shuttle…

    • Jay

      +1 for more/better crosstown routes.

      • FridayGirl

        Agreed. I feel like this is a problem all over the city. The East-West buses never seem to run as frequently or reliably as North-South routes.

        • JohnH

          To be fair, even driving a personal car is a pain in the arse and incredibly inconsistent traffic wise east/west. The fluctuations in my commute driving less than 2.5 miles is absurd.

          • Truxton Thomas

            +1. Crosstown is brutal.

    • Cherry

      +1 That .25 shuttle was way ahead of it’s time. That shuttle is needed more than ever now!

    • Anon

      I think the existing cross-town routes are really good (at least close to the core) – what areas do you feel are being underserved?

      • David T.

        The crosstown routes north of the core need to be much more reliable and frequent. The existing crosstown routes I believe you’re thinking of have a NW to SE orientation, rather than a true East-West orientation.
        .
        The G2 route has a high residential density and connects to so many other frequent routes. That Georgetown-Dupont-Logan-NoMa axis needs to be much better served. And yes, they need to figure out how to get the G2 to go to NoMa, rather than weaving its way through LeDroit Park. With NoMa & Georgetown as anchor points for the line, it would see greater ridership and hopefully become much more reliable and frequent.
        .
        There should also be a Florida Ave. bus line, running from the starburst intersection at H St. NE all the way along Florida to U St., then picking Florida back up at 18th St. NW, finishing the route near Dupont. Lots of existing and planned density along that route.

        • Anon

          I agree that G2 should be rerouted through NoMa (continuing along P street should work, though I’d try to avoid Wendy’s Circle if at all possible).
          .
          Regarding the Starburst-18/U route, either the 90 or the 92 could be easily rerouted that way. Maybe one day?

      • maxwell smart

        I would love to see something that connects Georgetown/Glover Park with Woodley Park/Cleveland Park

        • Anon

          I don’t think there’s enough demand to make that happen.

          • FridayGirl

            Yeah, I think they assume the 96 is sufficent (although then one has to take buses or walk up Wisconsin to get on it if you live below the Cathedral). I mean, theoretically it is sufficient because it was never super packed when I used to make that trip. BUT it did suck, and half the time I’d not bother and just Uber, or even take the Circulator downtown and then back up north.

      • Evan Tupac Grooter

        The G2 is horrible and has 2 multi-year detours currently. You can down Rode Island from New Jersey to Logan Circle and see the same bus twice in the mornings. Plus, the time between buses is inconsistent. Unless you are going past Dupont Circle, it is almost always faster to walk.

        • Anon

          Blame that on the traffic. As someone else mentioned above, cross-town traffic is brutal, even by private car. I don’t see that ever changing (good luck getting any more metro lines downtown).

    • textdoc

      The Quarter Bus!

  • neighbor

    People have been pushing really hard for this, but it seems like a huge waste that will inevitably be a disappointment.
    .
    14th Street from Florida North is a two lane street. The express buses will just get stuck behind the regular buses and in the vast majority of cases the travel time will be the same.
    .
    I get the frustration of people who ride this route, but I just don´t see this as being a solution.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I mostly agree, but am slightly hopeful. One of the things that makes the 52/53/54 slower, but also provides some basis for hope, is that unlike on 16th St with the S buses, the 52/53/54 pull out of the travel lane, across the bike lane, and into the parking lane to serve the stops, and they get further slowed down by having to merge back into traffic, and often get stuck sitting there while a stream of selfish jackwagons refuse to let the bus back in. That, though, will also allow the new Express bus to pass them.

    • anon

      the area from about florida to spring will still be a bottleneck, but the route runs from takoma to federal triangle. this is still the least bad option in the absence of dedicated lanes.

    • Anonynon

      agreed! and with 15 minute headways during rush hour….youll be lucky if you can get onboard (because ideally, most people are riding all the way to downtown) so once its full…you are S.O.L. Def not gonna fix the disaster that is 14th street. Still better off hitting the circulator if you live near 14th and u.

      • lizcolleena

        Actually I can attest from experience that a lot of people get off in Columbia Heights, and not just the metro stop. Keep in mind that most kids take the city bus or metro to school, so I see a ton of kids get off at Park Rd on 14th because they are walking over to Bell-Lincoln (they wear uniforms). Between those two stops alone, it’s enough people disembarking that it’s pretty rare that a bus I’m on from CH south bypasses a stop. I’d estimate it’s less than 1x a week. Now, north of Park Rd I think it does happen more because the handful of times I was trying to board up there I had to wait for multiple buses.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Yes, during the AM rush it often fills up at Fort Stevens Drive or Military Road and bypasses a bunch of stops between there and Park Road.

    • Reality

      Huh? Express buses don’t get stuck behind regular buses. I take the Circulator up 14th and it definitely passes right by regular buses easily.

  • theharleyquin

    I frequently ride both the W4 and 52/54, and these changes would be a big help. With the Metro being in the state it’s in, revamping bus coverage should be a focus.

  • maxwell smart

    I would just be happy if my bus ran more than once every 40 minutes.

  • lizcolleena

    A) really happy to hear this. I don’t understand why we need a stop on every other block in this city. It slows traffic up a lot, for the reasons already mentioned (merging), but also because often enough buses are blocked from the bus lane or drivers get sick of trying to merge back in and just stop in the dead center of traffic. So dumb.
    B) has anyone noticed the 50 buses running a lot less frequently lately – did I miss an adjustment in scheduling? I feel like for the first 18 months (ish) that I took this route I normally had to wait 5 minutes or less on average. This year I can count on my fingers the number of times that’s happened. More often it’s a ~10 minute wait according to my app and the scrolling sign at the bus stop, which really means ~15 minutes because they are always slower. And I intentionally walk to a stop where a lot of people disembark (Park Rd) even though there’s another stop closer to me, so that buses don’t pass me by because they’re full, so it’s not really a capacity issue.
    C) can they just get rid of parking on 14th from Florida to Spring? I live less than half a block off 14th in this section, own a car, and still would GREATLY prefer this section be no parking, or 30 minute parking during non-rush hour times or something else along those lines.

    • bubbe

      I was wondering the same thing. The last 6 months it’s been really bad. But for the first 5 yrs I’ve been on this route it’s been about a 5 min wait. This morning, the wait for the 54 was 16 min and 52 was 40 min so I didn’t bother knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get on the 54 with a 16 min wait. I’ve been taking the circulator or actually walking the 40 min it takes to get to work. My theory is that, besides more people, there is more traffic b/c uber pool is so cheap and metro (and now buses) are unreliable. It will just get worse as the buses get worse in a self defeating circle.

      • lizcolleena

        Yep, I walked to work this morning! I don’t mind doing so, but there are so many factors (shoes, weather, time) that I really can’t do it everyday. Annoying that the 50 line has been so unreliable lately.

  • Planner

    I will be happy if this new route attracts enough people so that the 52 below U Street is not over-full and will actually stop to let me board.
    It’s Spring – the time for hope!

    (Too bad the 59 won’t start service sooner, now that the13th St entrance to U Street station is closing for six months, making the train a less convenient option.)

  • Michael Pierce

    Has anyone seen any information about where this bus will stop along 14th?

    • David T.

      Here’s a PDF of the study from several years ago:
      http://www.metrobus-studies.com/52-53-54/14th%20Street%20Line%20Study_Final%20Summary%20Report_10192012.pdf
      .
      Look on page 34 for a proposed route map (anecdotally, these seem like the right stops based on passenger volume) and on pages 52, 53, and 54 for more information on an implementation timeline and cost. It looks like if it goes well initially, they’ll expand service to evenings and weekends. Anecdotally (again), evening and weekend service would likely prove popular, given all of the service industry employees who ride the bus.
      .
      When they started using larger buses in the evenings on 16th St. a few years ago, it was because of what they called the “3rd rush hour” of service industry employees between 10 & 11 p.m.

    • jonah

      Here is a map from the 14th Street Bus Riders Alliance facebook page, though I can’t say for sure if these are the final stops. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10101350826160351&set=gm.231259953947022&type=3&theater

  • jonah

    For those of you with a love/hate relationship with ANCs I want to say this is the result of some great work by ANC 4C Chairman Zach Teutsch (I serve on 4C with him) with collaboration and support of ANCs 1A, 1B, 1D, 2B, 2F, 4A, 4C, and 4D. 1C and 4B I believe are also joining in shortly to encourage the DC Council to leave this funding in the budget.

    • Oldhouselover

      Yeah, huge shout out to Comissioner Teutsch for his leadership on this. This move was the result of some serious organizing by ANC leaders and citizens. For all of the other good ideas for improvements on this chain – it can be done with an investment of time and energy. Also, I don’t often say this but props to the Mayor for being responsive.

    • amber

      +1 thanking Zach for all of his work on this!

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