CSG in the News: New report card gives Metrobus service in the District a failing grade

CSG in the Washington Post: New report card gives Metrobus service in the District a failing grade

But an analysis says there’s hope for a better bus system if recommendations are carried out.

by Luz Lazo, Washington Post, July 10, 2019

Despite efforts to improve bus service in the District to make it a more attractive option for travel, it continues to be slow and unreliable, with some saying the situation has reached a crisis point.

A report card to be released Wednesday gives Metrobus a grade of D — barely passing.

“Transit is really in crisis,” said Cheryl Cort, policy director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which co-sponsored the report along with the MetroHero commute app. “We have been losing riders for quite a few years, and the speed and reliability of the bus just continues to decline.”

Metrobus’s grade was pulled down by some of its biggest — and well-known — problems: buses are commonly stuck in traffic gridlock, they aren’t properly spaced, and they are chronically late.

The good news is the system, which for a long time was an afterthought in a region that prioritizes Metro, is getting some attention….

The report card unveiled Wednesday concurs with the recommendations by the  [Metro-led Bus Transformation] transportation project. Among them are making boarding easier through mobile or offboard payment systems; enhancing affordable options with free transfers between bus and rail and reduced-fare passes for low-income riders; and improving the rider experience with efficient next-bus technology, modern fleets, clear system maps, and safe and accessible bus stops….

The District this summer launched the H and I street NW bus lanes, aimed at speeding travel of about 70 buses an hour in the downtown corridors. Hill said that though the bus lanes are only a pilot, she hopes they will be made permanent. The District is also moving toward construction of a long-planned bus lane on 16th Street NW and a transitway in the congested K Street corridor, which carries a bulk of the routes servicing downtown.

“This is the right direction. These are the things D.C. should be doing,” she [co-author Jennifer Hill] said.

Jeff Marootian, director of the District Department of Transportation, said the recent investments in the downtown bus lanes, along with the other bus priority plans, will make buses more attractive to riders and are part of the city’s strategy to decrease congestion and make the District’s transportation more sustainable.

Read the full Washington Post story here.