An effort is underway to have local Advisory Neigbhorhood Commissions (ANCs) pass nearly identical resolutions urging more progress on proposed dedicated bus lanes on 16th Street NW.
ANC 2B/Dupont Circle passed the resolution (available here) at its last meeting on February 17th, by a vote of 6-0 with one abstention. On February 20th, the Transportation Committee of ANC1B/U Street voted to recommend the full ANC approve a similar resolution. The recommendation was passed by a voice vote with no audible objections. ANC1B will probably vote on the resolution at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, March 6, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).
ANC2B Commissioner Kishan Putta (district 04) and Cheryl Cort, Policy Director of theCoalition for Smarter Growth, appeared before the ANC1B Transportation Committee to urge they endorse the resolution. Cort said the purpose of the resolution was to urge the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to move forward on the long series of public consultations and studies (e.g., air quality approval, environmental assessment) necessary before the lanes can become a reality.
“We’d like them to go through the whole process,” Cort said.
The committee discussed the exact definition of a dedicated bus lane. Such a lane, in this case, would also allow bicycles and right-turning cars and taxis. If not turning right, taxis would be forbidden from the bus lanes.
ANC1B Chair James Turner (district 09), although not a member of the Transportation Committee, was present at the meeting. He said he wouldn’t support the resolution, because it does nothing to address the congestion problems of buses that pass through his district, for example, buses that travel on 14th Street, 11th Street, and Georgia Avenue. Cort replied improved 16th Street service would draw off riders currently taking 14th Street buses, relieving congestion.
The ANC1B version of the resolution will have some additional language in it pointing out that bus demand has exceeded capacity on both 14th Street and Georgia Avenue buses as well.
Putta has been campaigning vigorously to get the bus lanes moving forward, most recently testifying at a D.C. Council hearing on February 20.
He has also been working hard to inject the issue into the April 1 D.C. primary elections, often asking candidates for their views at public events.
Putta says D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser (Ward Four) has declared herself in favor of the bus lanes, after initially expressing skepticism about the proposal. Other candidates from the city council — Jack Evans (Ward Two) and Tommy Wells (Ward Six) — have also expressed their support. In addition, both candidates in the Ward One City Council primary — Jim Graham and Brianne Nadeau — have told Putta they support the proposal.
“DDOT itself did a study last year recommending a rush-hour bus lane. Now they need to make it formal and implement it,” Putta said.
The 2013 DDOT study found that bus lanes could reduce commute time by 30%, Putta said. They could also increase total bus capacity by 10% because buses could be reused faster.