DC’s H and I Streets NW Bus Lane Study
The Washington, D.C. region continuously ranks as one of the most congested metropolitan areas in the nation. Metrobus plays an important role in connecting residents to activity centers and alleviating traffic on arterials. However since Metrobus vehicles operate within mixed traffic, Metrobus service experiences delays and reduced travel speed on a daily basis.
To improve the effectiveness and reliability of bus service, WMATA and DDOT recently initiated an operational analysis to explore bus-only lanes along H and I Streets NW, one of the busiest bus corridors in downtown Washington, DC. The study team recently completed the existing corridor conditions assessment and applied VisSim, a multi-modal traffic simulation tool, to identify and quantify the congestion impacts on buses as well as other roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and private vehicles.
The assessment concluded that
- Bus service is abundant in the H and I Street corridor, as shown by the rectangular boxes in the VisSim video. There are 51 buses operating in the AM Peak hour and 49 buses in the PM peak hour, including Metrobus, DC Circulator, OmniRide, and Loudoun County Transit. The combined bus service carries approximately 40% of person throughput on I Street in the PM Peak, but only accounts for 2% of vehicle traffic. Despite such productive service, buses travel at a speed that is 50 percent slower than regular traffic even after excluding the dwell time at bus stops for passenger boarding and alighting.
- This corridor also carries heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic. As many as 2,000 pedestrians per hour are observed crossing H and I Streets at 17th Street NW. Bicyclists are active on H Street NW, with as many as 212 bikes per hour were observed H Street at Jackson Place. The 15th Street cycle track, which intersects H Street at Vermont Street and Madison Place, is heavily used by bicyclists.
- I Street (westbound) currently experiences severe congestion between 15th and 17th Streets NW. This congestion is primarily due to the lack of capacity to make a left and right turn from the corridor with conflicting pedestrian movements, resulting in extended bus delay. Delays are more pronounced if north-south traffic blocks the H Street through traffic during certain signal cycles.
Please click the simulation video here to see the PM peak hour conditions on H and I Streets.
Upon the completion of existing operating conditions assessment, the study team will explore bus-lane options, including concurrent flow and contra-flow bus lanes, and assess the bus lane impact on all other travelers in the corridor. Once options for improving bus travel time have been developed, the study team will begin outreach with stakeholders and the community to gather feedback on the alternatives.