Image from Wikimedia.

After we suggested making a map of high-frequency bus routes or combinations of routes and I attempted making a 12-minute map, Metro planners created one. On the new PlanItMetro blog, Metro released a draft 15-minute bus map highlighting bus routes or combinations of routes that run every 15 minutes or more.

This is an important step in getting people acquainted with using buses more frequently to travel places where there is no Metrorail station. The full Metrobus maps have all the routes on them, even those that travel only a few times per day. No markings designate routes that operate during rush hour only, or are weekday only.

This frequent network map would encourage Metrorail customers to give Metrobus a try, because you don’t have to worry about schedules.

The draft map shows the Metrobus routes scheduled at least every 15 minutes from 7 am to 7 pm on weekdays. This is a fairly low threshold to cross, compared to other transit areas, whose “High Frequency Maps” include a higher standard of service every 12 minutes (Los Angeles example), and service that operates 7 days per week. Metro chose these criteria because more stringent criteria would result in very few routes being included. This could point to where the Metrobus system could improve its service.

Click to enlarge (PDF).

This is an important step to highlight Metro’s most frequent routes. Policy makers should consider a few questions:

  • How can we get more routes on this map? What routes are close to being included and how much funding would it take? Are there route alignments that we could change to provide effectively more “frequent network” service?
  • How can we expand this map to weekends too, or to extend the hours earlier or later? What upgrades to routes would be necessary and how much would that cost?
  • How can we encourage people to use proximity to the “frequent network” as part of their marketing? Right now apartment rental ads or businesses often advertise their proximity to “Metro”, meaning Metrorail. Would it be a benefit to advertise that a business is “on the frequent Metrobus network”?

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia.