14th Street NW. Image by Ted Eytan licensed under Creative Commons.

The buses that run up and down 14th Street NW are some of DC’s busiest, but they’re also very crowded and not very dependable. A group of residents have been pushing the DC Council to fund a WMATA proposal to add the 59, an express-like route, and now seven neighborhoods have stepped up to support the measure as well.

Sign the Petition!

Over the past five years, the 14th Street corridor has grown exponentially. Over 13,000 new residents and nearly 7,000 new businesses along the street has driven ridership on the 50 series buses to record highs. It’s no surprise that these buses are increasingly overcrowded and slowed down by bunching and/or traffic congestion.

WMATA studied the corridor (multiple times) and developed the 59 bus to run from the Takoma Metro station to Federal Triangle Metro station. As a limited-stop bus (similar to DC Circulator or the S9 and 79 MetroExtra buses), it will be faster for residents and alleviate crowding on local buses.

The report concluded that the District government needs to contribute $1.2 million to operate the bus service. That’s just .009% of DC’s FY2016 operating budget. Unfortunately, previous budget cycles left out that funding because there wasn’t enough coordinated political pressure.

The political pressure is on now

Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A, 1D, 4A, 4C, 4D, 2B, and 2F recently passed resolutions requesting that the mayor include the funds in her upcoming budget. (If you need a refresher, ANCs are hyperlocal elected councils that weigh in on neighborhood issues like transportation and development.)

ANCs that have passed resolutions in support of the 59. ANC 1B is discussing a resolution in committee this week. Image by Peter Dovak used with permission.

The joint effort between ANCs, more than 600 neighbors, and 25 businesses/organizations is a powerful voice to champion this initiative in the Wilson Building. This is all in addition to the public support from six DC Councilmembers, which will be important in the next phase.

If the funds go into the mayor’s budget, it will need make it through multiple budget hearings, markups, and even the congressional review period before we see more buses on the street.

With nearly half of the DC Council on board the chances are good the funding will survive. But it’s not a guarantee.

That’s why we need you and your friends to continue supporting our efforts.

  1. Sign and share this petition with your friends and local businesses.

  2. If your ANC is already behind the 59, thank your commissioner! Go to ancfinder.org to get your ANC commissioner’s contact information, and tell them thank you for supporting the 59.

  3. If your ANC isn’t supportive yet, tell them to get on board! Let them know you’d like to see a resolution of support from them!

  4. As budget season heats up, make sure your DC Councilmember knows that you support this initiative. Email, call, and yes, even write a letter to their offices.

If this initiative is successful it will only affirm the strength neighbors, businesses and ANCs have by working together to improve our city one bus line at a time. Just imagine what else we can achieve in the near future.

Alex Graham is a local business owner and ANC Commissioner (2F03) representing southwestern Logan Circle. A native of Tampa, FL, he moved to the District in August 2006 to attend George Washington University (Raise High!) and immediately fell in love with the city. He currently resides with his fiancé, John Bremer, and their loveable, fat cat, Charlie.