Spurred by a federal TIGER grant, planners at WMATA and DDOT are moving closer to making bus priority measures a reality in the District of Columbia.

WMATA has identified operational savings estimated at $5.6 million annually for six corridors in the District for measures funded by the grant including transit signal priority (TSP), bus bulb-outs and stop improvements.  Similar projects in Maryland and Virginia are also being funded by the TIGER grant.

DC TIGER Grant Bus Priority Projects
16th St.20 TSP & 30 improved bus stops$1,000,000
Georgia Ave36 improved bus stops & bus bulbouts$300,000
H St/Benning Rd22 improved bus stops & 1 queue jump$400,000
Wisconsin Ave20 TSP and 54 improved bus stops$2,000,000
TR Bridge to K St.unidentified TSP locations$900,000
14th St. Bridge to K St.unidentified TSP locations$1,000,000

In addition to the TIGER grant improvements, DDOT is developing a comprehensive multi-modal network plan that includes bus lanes and other bus priority measures.  The first place that we may see a difference is a new bus lane on I Street NW between 13th and 19th Streets and the removal of the 9th Street bus lane downtown.  The new lane could be operational by the fall.

Planners at WMATA have also been busy developing several new ideas.  They have developed “hypothetical” bus lanes that would produce roughly estimated additional savings of about $13 million.  WMATA designates them as “hypothetical” because the feasibility of implementing the lanes has not been evaluated yet.

WMATA “Hypothetical” DC Bus Lanes
7th St.Fla. Ave.N St.$500,000
7th St.Penn. Ave.Indep. Ave.$2,300,000
16th St.Spring RdFla. Ave.$2,300,000
H St.17th St.13th St.$1,800,000
I St.13th St.19th St.$3,200,000
Penn. Ave.Potomac Ave.Minn. Ave.$3,000,000

WMATA’s cost saving assumptions are not unreasonable, but depend heavily on good implementation of the improvements. 

WMATA also has a consultant looking at potential bus lanes based on the number of buses and the slowness of speed and have identified a “top 10” list that overlaps some of the TIGER projects.  Several other corridors narrowly missed being included in the “top ten.”  Among those just missing the list were Columbia Road NW, 7th Street NW (further north) and Wisconsin Avenue near Tenley Circle. 

WMATA “Top Ten” Bus Corridors
CorridorFrom/ToAverage SpeedBuses per Day
Conn. Ave. NWK St. to Dupont Circle 4.5 mph360
H St. NW5th St. to 13th St.6.5 mph550
11 St. NWPennsylvania to K St.4.5 mph340
13th St. NWH St. to I St.6.5 mph530
I St. NW11th St. to Conn. Ave.6 mph400
M St./ Penn. Ave. NWWash Cir. to Wisc. Ave.6.5 mph420
H St. NWConn. Ave to 13th St.6 mph350
P Street NWFl. Ave. to Dupont Cir.5 mph250
14th St. NWK St. to Buchanan St.6.5 mph350
7th St. NWConstitution to H St.6 mph280

The elements of well designed bus lanes, wider stop spacing of up to one every 0.2 or 0.25 miles, transit signal priority with proper stop location, queue jumpers and bulbouts when implemented around the country have resulted in time savings.  If done properly in the District, buses can become an increasingly attractive part of urban mobility—and provide substantial savings that can be used to further improve transit service.


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Craig Simpson is currently working as a representative for Progressive Maryland.  He has in the past worked for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 and the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO.  He has a degree in Labor Studies from the National Labor College.