H and I Streets Bus Improvements Study — Final Technical Report Released
Metro has released the final technical report of the H and I Streets Bus Improvements Study, making a compelling case for traffic management improvements and bus lane alternatives in the region’s most heavily traveled bus corridor.
DC’s downtown core is a vibrant community, with 380,000 jobs today and significant residential and retail development in the coming decade. While growth will transform the core and create opportunities, it is likely to increase the burden on the transportation network that is already strained by the closure of Pennsylvania Ave.
Today, all users—drivers, bus passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists—experience congestion during peak periods. Besides high-volume traffic in the corridor, the constant friction among buses, vehicles and delivery trucks further aggravates travel experience. For bus passengers, the current corridor congestion severely affects travel time and service reliability—a short bus ride on I Street from 13th St to 19th St could take more than 10-15 minutes during rush hours.
Metro and DDOT collectively launched the H and I Streets Bus Improvements Study last year to explore bus improvements on H and I Streets NW in the downtown core, the region’s most heavily traveled and most productive bus corridor. The study investigated traffic management improvements and bus-only lane options with the objective of providing reliable and efficient bus service and alleviating Metrorail core congestion through innovative surface transit improvements.
Four bus improvement options developed for analysis, as described and illustrated below:
- Optimized No-Build: traffic management improvements through traffic signal optimizations and right-turn restrictions;
- Alternative 1: weekday, peak-period, concurrent flow bus-only lanes on H and I Streets NW paired with right-turn restrictions at select intersections;
- Alternative 2: westbound-only contra-flow bus-only lane on H Street NW; and
- Alternative 3: contra-flow bus-only lanes on H and I Streets NW.
A comprehensive operations analysis found that all alternatives perform well.
- In the short-term, the Optimized No-Build improves traffic and transit travel times, provides immediate benefits to corridor users and allows flexibility for a later determination of transit investment.
- Among the bus lane alternatives, Alternatives 1 and 2 provide excellent returns on investment based on traffic simulation, operational assessment and benefit-cost analysis, including:
- Transit travel time savings up to 5 minutes (Alt 1) and 7 minutes (Alt 2) in the AM and PM rush-hour westbound direction, about half of today’s travel time. More travel time savings are expected in the future as traffic grows;
- 2.5 minutes in travel time savings for today’s vehicular traffic in the PM rush-hour westbound direction;
- High benefit-cost ratios, with Alternative 1 varying between 23 and 33 and Alternative 2 at 29.
The study also identified operational changes for implementing traffic management improvements and bus lane alternatives, such as restricting right-turns at the intersection of I St and 17th, removing on-street parking and loading areas for bus lanes, designating enforcement officers for the concurrent flow bus lane (Alternative 1) and changing H Street to two-way operations for the contra-flow bus lane (Alternative 2).
The findings of this study will support WMATA, DDOT and other stakeholders in determining the next steps of implementing bus improvements and evaluating the collective benefits and effects of the H and I Streets bus improvements and other planned transportation improvements on the downtown transportation network.
The videos below illustrate simulations of bus lane operations for Alternatives 1 and 2 in the PM peak hour.
Alternative 1: Concurrent-Flow Bus Lanes on H and I Streets, Aerial View
Alternative 2: Contraflow Lane on H Street, Aerial View
Alternative 2: Contraflow Lane on H Street, Dashboard View