Image by Aimee Custis Photography licensed under Creative Commons.

Metro is considering a major slate of service changes on some of the region’s most heavily-traveled bus routes, and is convening a public hearing tonight to take feedback. Is your route among those that would be affected?

The changes being proposed are part of WMATA’s semi-regular bus State of Good Operations (SOGO) process, which periodically takes a look at service offerings with a goal of allocating resources more efficiently. This is typically a revenue-neutral exercise, whereby savings from cuts to underperforming or redundant service are matched by improvements to “productive” routes – although there are some improvements identified in this round that aren’t necessarily offset.

Many of the service alterations in this proposal originate from recommendations made in Metrobus line studies conducted over the past several years. Others were requested by one of the local jurisdictions or – as in the case of possible re-routings to The Wharf and Buzzard Point – represent an attempt to match transit service to new development. Changes would be implemented in either December of this year or June of next year.

So what does the package have in store?

Significant service enhancements in the District

The most significant changes are in the District, where nearly 20 routes are proposed to be added, chopped, or modified in some way. The biggest overhaul is coming to the 14th Street line, which is serviced by the 50s buses. As a result of a successful advocacy campaign, the District government funded the launch of a limited-stop service on this heavily traveled corridor called the MetroExtra route. This route will run from Takoma to Federal Triangle in both directions every 15 minutes, from 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 3:45 pm to 6:45 pm.

Other proposed changes to the 50s would absorb the 53 into the 54, which would terminate at Metro Center. Route 52 would be extended slightly to serve The Wharf before looping back to L’Enfant Plaza.

Image by WMATA used with permission.



The result of these changes is greater overall service at rush hour – including more than double the amount of service on the northern leg of the line between 14th & Colorado and Takoma – and more service at the ends of the line generally, with a slight cut in local service in the core section on weekdays.

Another proposed change (which, full disclosure I am advocating for as a Foggy Bottom ANC commissioner), is the possible introduction of mid-day and reverse peak service on the H1 route. Buses would come every 15 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes mid-day and in the early evening. The H1 is a longstanding rush-hour-only route running between Potomac Park (Foggy Bottom) and Brookland-CUA Station in the peak direction, by way of Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and Dupont Circle. Currently there is no direct, all-day service between Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle – nor is there all-day service between both of these dense activity centers and the mid-city area. This is the main reason that both neighborhood ANCs support this service enhancement.

Full-time weekday service on this route was a recommendation from the 2013 study conducted of service on the Crosstown routes. The H1 is presently the best-performing of these routes by any number of measures – drawing over four times the number of riders per trip as WMATA’s guideline calls for, and nearly six times the guideline for riders per revenue mile.

The final significant and clearly positive change in DC is the addition of weekday, mid-day service on the X9 limited-stop route, at a 20-minute frequency. All mid-day trips on the X2 would also now run to Lafayette Square rather than short-turning at Gallery Place, but local service frequency would be slightly reduced to compensate for the new MetroExtra runs.

A mixed bag of proposals

Other key District proposals include:

  • Implementing recommendations from the recently-completed 60s Line Study, including the lengthening of every other Takoma-Petworth bus (current 62, new 63/) to Federal Triangle (63) – at the expense of every other Ft. Totten-Federal Triangle bus (64), which will be shortened to Petworth. This is a revenue-neutral change: combined frequency is not slated to be altered south of Petworth.
  • A possible southward extension of the 74 route (Convention Center to Nationals Park) in order to service DC.C. United’s new stadium and future development at Buzzard Point. Also under consideration are routing changes that would run the 74 past Tthe Wharf via Maine Avenue and two-way service on 4th and P Streets SW.
  • Elimination of the 94 Stanton Road line in view of the corridor’s likely conversion to Circulator service.
  • Truncating the 96 at McLean Gardens, at the expense of the route segment on Wisconsin Avenue up to Tenleytown Station. The 96 had terminated at McLean Gardens for many years, but the route was extended to Tenleytown when construction on the Cathedral Commons development displaced its former terminal stand.
  • Changes to the U5/6/7/8, which would substitute service to Mayfair on the U7 in place of existing service on the U5/6 from Marshall Heights. The U7 would also be extended from Minnesota Avenue Station to service more of the Minnesota Avenue commercial corridor at some times, terminating south of East Capitol Street. Lastly, some U8 service is proposed to be extended past its present Benning Heights terminus to Congress Heights Metro, by way of Southern and Alabama Avenues.
  • Elimination of the V5, a peak-direction rush-hour route between Fairfax Village and L’Enfant Plaza.

In Maryland:

  • Two possible changes to the B30 route between Greenbelt and BWI Airport contemplate a detour in order to add service to Arundel Mills Mall. One of the changes would further shorten the route’s length on the B-W Parkway and add more stops by shifting service over to U.S. 1 (Baltimore Avenue) between MD-198 and the area around Greenbelt Metro. Time between buses would increase under either option: from 60 minutes to 70 minutes at rush hours only for the more limited Arundel Mills detour, or to 90 minutes at all times for the more extensive change onto Route 1.
  • The J1 route will operate in only one direction during rush-hours: westbound in the morning and eastbound in the evening. The, but its western terminus would be extended from Medical Center Metro to Montgomery Mall, and t. The J3 bus would be eliminated.
  • The J12 will be re-routed to serve Capitol Heights Metro, rather than Addison Road Metro, and a free transfer will be created via rail for bus customers to travel between the two stations.
  • Changes to the Y-line on Georgia Avenue contemplate altered service patterns in relation to Leisure World.

In Virginia:

  • A large overhaul of service on Columbia Pike is being contemplated, with many possibilities and component parts. This includes the potential conversion of some existing local service to limited-stop along the Arlington County portion of Columbia Pike, as well as various re-routings – including the potential extension of some service to Crystal City.
  • Mid-day and evening service on the 4A route between Seven Corners and Rosslyn would be eliminated, in place of 30-minute service on the 4B at all times. The 4A travels via Arlington Boulevard while the 4B runs via Pershing Drive and other local streets.
  • The 7A, the 7F, and the 22A, which at present all run directly from Pentagon to/from Shirlington on I-395, would be re-routed to service Pentagon City as well. Bus frequency would decrease slightly to accommodate the added travel time. In addition, the 22B route would be eliminated.
  • The 10E route, running from Alexandria to Rosslyn, would be shortened on its northern end to Pentagon.
  • An additional trip would be added to the morning and afternoon schedules of the 11Y GW Parkway express route between Alexandria and DC
  • The 29K and 29N routes would be extended from King Street Metro, their eastern terminus, to Eisenhower Avenue Metro – however route frequency would decrease slightly as no new buses will be added to compensate for the increased travel time.
  • All Metroway trips would run between Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, rather than having some trips short-turn at Crystal City. However, headways between Crystal City and Potomac Yard would increase from six to eight minutes duringat rush hours.

Have thoughts on any of these changes? Come out and testify at the public hearing this evening, starting at 6 pm at WMATA Headquarters. Speaker registration is on-site, and I can personally attest to the efficacy of in-person advocacy – but if you are unable to make it, WMATA is accepting public comment via online and printed surveys through 9 am on Monday.

This post has been updated to correctly describe the changes to the B30 route.

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Patrick Kennedy is a recent (2014) graduate of George Washington University. A native of Clearwater, Florida, he was first elected to Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A in Foggy Bottom as a GW student in 2012. Patrick has been the chairman of ANC 2A since 2014 and was recently re-elected to his third term on the Commission.