800 block of H Street, NE, Washington DC on Friday evening, 15 March 2013 by Elvert Barnes Photography Image by Elvert Barnes/Flickr licensed under Creative Commons.

In case you missed it, the Metrobus X2 route now runs all day, every day. Metro’s June 25th schedule changes included adding extra overnight buses. This fills an overnight service gap on the route, which runs from Lafayette Square to the Minnesota Avenue Metro station.

The X2, which carries over 12,000 passengers per day, used to have a gap of about 100 minutes between 2:30 and 4:10 am when the bus ran westbound to Lafayette Square, and an hour or so when running east down H Street.

Image by WMATA.

But the new schedule eliminates that. This latest change means that the bus runs at least every 30 minutes all day, and more frequent than that during the daylight hours - either every 8 or 16 minutes between 7 am and 6 pm, depending where on the line you are.

A couple other lines in the region already operate near 24-hour service. The S2’s last southbound weeknight run begins at 2:20 am, while the earliest departs at 4:09 am. The 70’s first southbound run departs Silver Spring at 4:00 am, and the last of the evening leaves 2:26 am.

When Metro cut back after-midnight rail service hours as part of the year-long SafeTrack track maintenance program last year, the agency suggested a limited late-night bus service network would be able to fill in the gap created by the decreased service. Metro noted that the X2 was one of the lines which would receive extra late-night service to help make up for the shorter rail hours.

The year of SafeTrack meant that the rail system closed at midnight every day of the week as opposed to the 3 am weekend closings from before. The system now has new hours which are slightly longer than during SafeTrack, but the latest evening closure is at 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. As GGWash pointed out at the time, the frequency of the replacement late-night bus service wasn’t well-advertised, and it wasn’t clear whether new routes would be created to supplement the rail service.

Additional overnight X2 bus service is a plus for the District, giving more transit opportunities to anybody that needs it. While Metrorail and much of the Metrobus service primarily serve the peak travel periods in the morning and evening, there’s still plenty of travel that may need to happen off-hours or overnight. It also helps to break the chicken-and-egg problem where you might not be able to take a new job or go somewhere when you need if the bus service doesn’t exist.

Are there other bus lines that should clearly move toward 24/7 service?

Stephen Repetski is a Virginia native and has lived in the Fairfax area for over 20 years. He has a BS in Applied Networking and Systems Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology and works in Information Technology. Learning about, discussing, and analyzing transit (especially planes and trains) is a hobby he enjoys.