Aug 1, 2023 - News

Metrobus tests out new time-saving tactics

A Metrobus travels through Washington. Photo: Eric Lee /The Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. hopes to speed up Metrobus service by new traffic enforcement and all-door boarding, ahead of overnight service beginning next year on popular routes.

Why it matters: Metro estimates that its buses travel 10 mph on average — and as brutal as that sounds, it's even worse on the most popular routes.

Driving the news: To keep the "red-carpet" bus lanes clear of traffic, 140 buses on 31 routes now have windshield-mounted enforcement cameras to take snapshots of vehicles parking or caught in the lane.

  • For now, violators will only receive a warning in the mail during the 45-day grace period. But fines will begin in September.

Details: It's a $200 ticket for impeding a bus lane and $100 in a bus loading zone.

  • D.C. has bus-only lanes on H and I streets NW where rush hour traffic can come to a standstill downtown, in addition to on 16th Street and other areas.

Also: Metro will allow riders to board via the backdoor and tap their SmarTrip cards just like in the front, cutting down on lines.

  • In the coming weeks, all-door boarding will begin across some routes, growing to 450 buses by the end of the year, the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: "We're really trying to transform the bus experience here in Metro," general manager Randy Clarke said, per the Post.

  • "I want our bus customers to use the system, feel that they are important, and make our bus operators and bus staff understand they are just as important as rail at this organization. And if we do that well, ridership will continue to grow."

The big picture: As bus service is poised to improve, Metro faces a $750 million budget shortfall by July 2024. If the region doesn’t step in with additional funding, service levels would plummet.

What's next: 24/7 Metrobus service is expected to debut on 13 routes in January.

  • The D.C. Council approved $12 million to fund buses running every 20 minutes overnight on the following lines: 32, 33, 52, 70, 90, A6, A8, B2, H4, S2, V2, W4, and the X2.

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