WASHINGTON — While it’s a lifeline for some, buses are bypassed by a majority of commuters in our region. A recent study found that 62 percent take their cars every day, causing crippling traffic.
Now, there’s a new push to get more people on the bus than ever thanks to a plan for sweeping changes in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
Metro has given itself ten years to make bus routes better, commutes faster, and hopefully unclog congestion. The first version of its Bus Transformation Project is now available for public comment.
“It’s not consistent,” said Lamar Jones, one of the 200,000 D.C. riders who take Metrobus every day.
"The schedules don't seem to mean anything,” said Jones. “I’m used to living in bigger cities where toy can just leave the house and catch a bus-- they run 24/7.”
The report says that more people will take the bus if routes are streamlined, they’re easier to find, and it’s easier to pay. A focus on customers, but also on congestion. The report stresses there must be more dedicated bus lanes. In the District, there are only two miles of bus lanes city-wide.
“As our city grows we need to move more people,” said Stewart Schwartz, of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We cannot do it with cars because we’ll choke on them, so we need more dedicated bus lanes.”
But new concerns from county and regional transit authorities say the plan is flawed. Prince George’s County is concerned that Metro will shed 48 bus routes and turn them over to the county. The head of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority said the plan does not do enough to get car commuters to switch to the bus.
Public comment is just beginning with the hopes of making the bus better by 2030.
“You have to make other arrangements here,” said Jones. They just don't seem to be doing everything they could."