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Map spotlights busiest bus stops for 16th, 14th, & Georgia Avenue lines

Map from DDOT.

Every circle on this map is one bus stop. The larger the circle, the more riders get on or off at that stop.

The map shows where riders are going on WMATA’s busy 16th Street, 14th Street, and Georgia Avenue lines, plus a couple of smaller routes in the same part of town.

It’s a fascinating look at transit ridership patterns in DC’s densest corridor. And it correlates strongly with land use.

Georgia Avenue is a mixed-use commercial main street for its entire length. Thus, riders are relatively evenly distributed north-to-south.

16th Street, on the other hand, is lined with lower density residential neighborhoods north of Piney Branch, but is denser than Georgia Avenue south of there. It’s not surprising then that 16th Street’s riders are clustered more heavily to the south.

14th Street looks like a hybrid between the two, with big ridership peaks south of Piney Branch but also more riders further north of Columbia Heights. 14th Street also has what appears to be the biggest single cluster, Columbia Heights itself.

DDOT produced this map as part of its North-South Corridor streetcar planning. It’s easy to see why DDOT’s streetcar plans are focusing on 14th Street to the south and Georgia Avenue to the north.

Likewise, this illustrates how a 16th Street bus lane south of Piney Branch could be particularly useful.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

April 7th, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: BRT, bus, streetcar, transportation

Howard & Anne Arundel create a new transit agency, but better service may not be the point

Howard and Anne Arundel Counties have teamed up to create a new transit agency that will take over bus operations in the two Maryland counties.

The new agency will be called the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland (RTA). It will replace the Howard Transit and Central Maryland Regional Transit bus networks that currently operate in the area.

Existing CMRT bus. Photo from CMRT.

The decision to consolidate services seems aimed primarily at saving money. A single agency will combine its overhead costs, reducing operating expenses by an estimated 17%. That will save about $2 million per year.

It’s unclear whether that $2 million will be reinvested towards improved transit service, or simply redirected back to each county’s general fund. Howard and Annue Arundel have the weakest transit coverage in the Maryland suburbs, so they could certainly use improved service.

Annapolis Transit may also opt to join the newly consolidated agency, but hasn’t yet agreed.

March 31st, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, transportation

Transit nerds don’t rule the world? Huh?

I’ve definitely had the conversation depicted on this ad, which is hanging in a Metro station. It’s like WMATA doesn’t get me at all.

Anybody else?

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

January 31st, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, transportation

Here’s how bus lanes might fit on 16th Street

Transit advocates want bus lanes on 16th Street, and DDOT’s latest moveDC plans call for them, but at a recent meeting, Ward 4 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser expressed skepticism that they’re possible.

Here’s how they might be able to work.

Image created using Streetmix.

Yes, 16th Street really is that wide

16th Street is 50 feet wide, curb to curb, for pretty much its entire length. But those 50 feet are arranged in three different configurations, depending on the location.

North of Arkansas Avenue, 16th Street has two lanes in each direction with a raised median down the middle. The presence of that median makes this section the hardest to change.

Between P Street and W Street, 16th Street only has four lanes and lacks a median. But it’s still 50 feet wide. The four lanes are just excessively wide.

Between Arkansas Avenue and Park Road, 16th Street’s same 50-foot width is split into five 10′ lanes. This section is the most informative, and illustrates how a bus lane might fit in.

Image created using Streetmix.

Flexible lanes are the key

There are many demands on 16th Street. Residents want on-street parking. Drivers want two lanes open for cars in each direction. Transit riders want bus lanes.

Ideally we could accommodate all that on one street and still keep it pedestrian-friendly. But with exactly 50 feet to work with, compromises are necessary.

At off-peak times, both car and bus traffic on 16th Street moves pretty well with just one lane in each direction, leaving the curbside lanes for on-street parking. It’s only at rush hour that more lanes are really necessary.

The solution so far has been to restrict parking at rush hour, allowing the curbside lane to carry traffic at peak times. But north of Arkansas Avenue and south of W Street, where 16th Street is configured with only four total lanes, that solution leaves out a dedicated bus lane.

Using the five lane configuration, however, allows the curbside lane to become a bus-only lane at rush hour, while leaving the center reversible lane as a 2nd general traffic lane. For the most part, everybody gets what they want.

Theoretically, DDOT could apply this configuration to the existing five lane stretch of 16th Street more or less immediately. And although the median north of Arkansas Avenue is hard to change, restriping the four lane section south of W Street should be relatively easy.

And while a peak-period bus lane between P Street and Arkansas Avenue might not be as great as a full busway all the way from Silver Spring to K Street, it would still be one heck of an improvement over current conditions.

Will this actually happen?

Of course, what’s theoretically possible and what’s practically achievable aren’t always the same. DDOT would need to study this much more closely before implementing it.

One potential holdup is that 10 feet is awfully narrow for a bus lane. Usually bus lanes are 11 or even 12 feet wide. But 10-foot lanes seem to be working now between Park and Arkansas, so why not further south as well?

A pilot project on the existing five lane section might help determine if this is a workable configuration.

Dupont Circle ANC Commissioner Kishan Putta suggested a pilot project in December. According to Putta, DDOT staff “said they were interested.” That’s certainly encouraging.

As for Bowser, she sent this statement in an email to Ken Archer, who had tweeted about the news:

“I never said I don’t support bus lanes. As I recall, I believe I said I don’t think it would work on 16th Street; though I was not responding to any specific proposal. My response was based on my many years of observing traffic patterns on the corridor– but not actual data. I went on to say, which has unfortunately not shown up in your tweets, that signal prioritization is a strategy on the books, with funding that needs to be implemented. As I mentioned to you, I’m happy to review and consider an actual dedicated bus lane proposal that proves to help the most people.”

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

January 23rd, 2014 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: BRT, bus, transportation

Metrobus adds service to several key routes

Starting this week, WMATA is adding new service to several of the most important bus routes throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Many lines will see more frequent buses, especially during nights and weekends.

Map highlighting routes with added service.

In DC, more frequent weekend & evening buses are now running on nearly all of the major trunk bus lines, including 16th Street, 14th Street, Georgia Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, H Street, and U Street / Florida Avenue. Perhaps most importantly, Georgia Avenue’s route 79 MetroExtra service now runs on Sundays.

In Maryland, the New Hampshire Avenue, Georgia Avenue, and National Harbor lines are getting more buses. For Virginia, the biggest improvements are along Leesburg Pike and Little River Turnpike.

WMATA modifies its bus service a few times each year, but this round is particularly important because of DC’s WMATA’s Better Bus program, which is gradually improving the most important bus lines in the District.

The complete list of service changes includes dozens of changes all over the region. Most of them are positive, although a few routes here and there will see decreased service.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

December 30th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, transportation

Articulated bus from 1948

Today in transit nerdery, take a look at this Capital Transit articulated bus from 1948.

According to the original description, this is a demonstration run of a bus model Capital Transit never actually used for passengers. The photo shows the Calvert Street turnaround, which is still used today.

Original photo by Robert S. Crockett. Copied by flickr user rockcreek.

November 26th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, history, transportation

An H Street bus lane would help both transit & cars

Every day 33 bus routes converge on H and I Streets in downtown DC, making it the busiest bus corridor in the DC region. According to a WMATA report, a contraflow bus lane on H Street would dramatically improve travel times for both transit riders and car drivers.

Potential H Street contraflow bus lane. Image from WMATA.

At peak times, one bus per minute travels along H or I. At off-peak, it’s a bus every two minutes. Today, all those buses mix with car traffic on both H and I Streets, which slows them down. Meanwhile, all those buses make several stops to pick up and unload passengers, which slows down car traffic trying to use the same lane.

Moving all the buses to H Street, which is less congested, and giving buses in the westbound direction a separated lane, would speed up both modes.

Since H Street is one-way going east, westbound buses would need a contraflow lane. There are no contraflow bus lanes in the DC region today, but they do work well in other cities around the US.

Contraflow bus lane in Pittsburgh.

In its report, WMATA also studied bus lanes on both H and I Streets, as well as a traffic management alternative that wouldn’t provide bus lanes, but would optimize traffic signals for buses. All the alternatives improved bus travel, and all of them either improved or maintained current car travel. But the H Street contraflow alternate provided the best combination of benefits, for relatively low cost.

Ultimately DC owns these streets, so the decision to actually implement bus lanes on them rests with the District, not WMATA. But Metro’s report could push DDOT to begin its own study process.

Seems like a good idea.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

November 14th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, roads/cars, transportation

Notes from Seattle: Trolley buses

Each day this week while I’m in Seattle for Railvolution there will be a brief post about some cool transportation-related thing in that city.

Seattle is home to America’s 2nd largest trolley bus network. Trolley buses are buses on wheels powered by overhead wire instead of diesel fuel or battery. They’re quieter and smoother than normal buses, but more expensive, and some people don’t like the overhead wires.

I’m a big fan of these, and would like to see them in more cities. While still a step down from streetcars, trolley bus wires offer some of the same sense of permanence as rail. They’re a sign a bus line isn’t likely to change.

Seattle trolley bus.

Tomorrow: A very complete street.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

October 23rd, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, transportation

Notes from Seattle: The subway

I’m in Seattle this week for the Railvolution conference, along with about half of GGW’s editorial team. Since I’ll be too busy geeking out at transit nerd nirvana to blog, each day this week there will be a brief post about some cool transportation-related thing here in Seattle. Today: Their unique bus/rail subway.

The Seattle Transit Tunnel is a 5-station subway that forms the core of Seattle’s transit network. It started off as a bus-only subway, but became a joint bus/rail tunnel when Seattle’s Central Link light rail line opened in 2009.

Each station is different, but one, Pioneer Square, would look particularly at home in DC:

Pioneer Square subway station.

Tomorrow: The famous Monorail.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

October 21st, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: BRT, bus, lightrail, transportation

Baltimore frequent transit map, version 2

Headed to Baltimore any time soon? If so, use this new frequent transit map, showing bus & rail routes that come at least every 15 minutes.

New Baltimore frequent transit map, by Marc Szarkowski for Envision Baltimore.

Compared to DC, Baltimore can be a difficult city to navigate via transit. But it’s getting easier thanks to the Charm City Circulator, weekend MARC, and the magic of frequent transit maps.

In 2011 Envision Baltimore produced an initial version of a frequent map, now they’ve updated it, and it’s better than ever.

The new map borrows heavily from WMATA’s 2012 bus maps that use a thick red line for more frequent routes. For Baltimore the thick lines are blue, but the effect and overall look is quite similar.

Close view of the area around Baltimore’s Penn Station. Map by Marc Szarkowski for Envision Baltimore.

I’ve added this new map to the list of all known US frequent transit maps on BeyondDC.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.

October 15th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: bus, maps, transportation



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