Metro General Manager John Catoe reminded bus drivers that they are required to pull completely into their bus stops, not stop with the end of the bus sticking out partway into traffic. DCist commenters promptly ignited a debate between those who felt it’s rude for buses to block the lane, and those who felt it’s ruder for drivers to make it so hard for buses to get back into the lane, thus appropriate for the buses to stop in a way that allows them easy re-entry.

Our traffic engineering should prioritize bus speed above traffic speed. In fact, DDOT should make it a policy to engineer every segment and intersection to facilitate buses moving most efficiently. After all, one bus carries as many people as an entire lane of traffic. Why should that lane worth wait for a small number of solo drivers at every stop?

We shouldn’t be making buses pull out of traffic at all. Instead, we should build bus bulb-outs like those proposed for 14th Street on most busy roads. We should even build bus-only lanes, and give buses signal priority so they can extend a yellow light, avoiding a minute’s wait when they pull out of a stop just as the light changes. Letting buses block their lane as they stop is just an improvised part-way step toward bus bulbs or dedicated lanes. Making them stop this practice is moving in the wrong direction.



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Tagged: buses

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.