The DC metro area’s bus system could use a reboot. Ridership is down 13 percent since 2012. Service is unreliable and bus routes are too complex. Like with Metro, ridesharing ends up being a more appealing alternative for many. It would be too bad if the bus system became the mode of transportation only for those who cannot afford anything else. Meanwhile, traffic congestion is only getting worse.
Luckily WMATA is kicking into gear, leading an effort to improve the region’s bus system—called the Bus Transformation Study. Beginning last year, WMATA pulled together representatives from every local bus system and other stakeholders to find ways to make the system more effective, reliable and competitive with other modes of transportation. The Federal City Council was invited to have a representative serve on the study’s Executive Steering Committee, and FC2 Trustee Debby Ratner Salzberg served in this capacity.
Today the draft study was released. It lays out a dozen recommendations, many of which focus on making the system more customer-oriented and pushing for more bus-dedicated or prioritized infrastructure. In addition to better-syncing existing routes, it also suggests the possibility of more on-demand service rather than fixed-routes. The recommendations should be finalized later this summer, and hopefully the hard work implementing the improvements can begin soon after. The Federal City Council looks forward to working with WMATA to help make it happen. For now, we celebrate the milestone of the draft’s release and thank Debby for her role in helping to shape it.