Improving bus service on the 30s line (Routes 31, 32, 34, and 36)

September 5th, 2013

The bus routes along Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Avenues are some of the busiest in the Metrobus system.  However these routes suffer from overcrowding and poor on-time performance.  In order to improve the frequency and reliability of service, Metro is exploring significant changes to routes 31, 32, 34, and 36.

These changes would include:

  • Adding service on Route 32 from Southern Avenue and Route 36 from Naylor Road and terminating both routes at Foggy Bottom.
  • Adding service on Route 31 from Friendship Heights and moving its terminus from Potomac Park to Archives.
  • Discontinuing service on Route 34 and moving its resources to Routes 32 and 36.
  • Creating a new Route 30 that would run between Southern Avenue and Friendship Heights.  Four different routes being considered this new line:
  • Option 1: Same as Route 32 between Southern Avenue and Potomac Avenue Station SE, then west to Georgetown via Lincoln Park, Union Station, and Thomas Circle, and then follow Route 31 between Georgetown and Friendship Heights.
  • Option 2: Same as Route 32 between Southern Avenue and Eastern Market, then west to Georgetown via 8th Street, Massachusetts Avenue, Union Station, and Thomas Circle, and then follow Route 31between Georgetown and Friendship Heights.
  • Option 3: Same as Route 32 between Southern Avenue and Independence Ave & 7th St SW, then west to Foggy Bottom via Independence Ave, 17th St SW, Virginia Ave, and Washington Circle, and then follow Route 31to Friendship Heights.
  • Option 4: Same as Route 32 between Southern Avenue and Anacostia Freeway (295) SE, then west to Foggy Bottom via Anacostia Freeway, Southeast/Southwest Freeway, Maine Avenue, 17th St SW, Virginia Ave, and Washington Circle, and then follow Route 31 to Friendship Heights.

The maps below illustrates the changes proposed. Please review and let us know what you think.  We will also be presenting these options at our upcoming public hearings.


Map illustrating proposed changes to Route 31. Click image for larger version.


Map illustrating proposed changes for routes 32, 36 and 34. Click image for larger version.


Map illustrating options for proposed Route 30. Click image for larger version.


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  1. Kate
    September 5th, 2013 at 08:52 | #1

    I like the idea of a route 30, and particularly option 1 and maybe 4? But I’m not wild about the other proposed changes, mostly because I don’t feel like they would make that big of a difference. That said, I’m not an expert on where the traffic congestion is worst or anything.

  2. Jessica
    September 5th, 2013 at 11:30 | #2

    From what I see, the proposed additions to 32 and 36 are not bad, but I don’t understand the discontinued portion of those routes. In the mornings (and vice versa in the afternoons), all 31, 32, and 36 buses coming down Wisconsin from Friendship Heights area are always packed; in many cases the buses are too full to take on passagengers waiting! Right now, 31 is the only bus that comes down from Friendship Heights area, goes down past Foggy Bottom and cuts into 21st. It’s nice that 32 and 36 would potentially cover this lower area around Foggy Bottom, but discontinuing the northern section of the route would mean no direct bus from NW Wisconsin down to Foggy Bottom/21st st areas. And this makes me question if cutting down from 3 buses (31,32,36) to two buses (31,30) will help with the commuting traffic between upper wisconsin and foggy bottom.

  3. Rich
    September 5th, 2013 at 14:38 | #3

    You might want to check with DDOT before presenting options 1 and 2. They are planning to put in a flexible post barrier protected bike lane on the north side of M Street downtown. I don’t think they have any provisions for bus stops included since no buses run on M street there now.

  4. Steve
    September 6th, 2013 at 09:28 | #4

    I think overall this looks positive. One of the problems I see from my experience in Glover Park is that the Wisconsin Ave service suffers because the 32/36 go all the way over to Anacostia. As a result, there are often gaps and bunching on this long route. The shorter Archives turnaround (and the future I St bus lanes) hopefully will make the service up and down Wisconsin more consistent and efficient. This is important as there is a lot of activity areas between Archives and Tenleytown that might be better served by this change.

    At first I was disappointed in the loss of a direct Foggy Bottom connection from the current 31, but the new 31 would be only 2 blocks from Foggy Bottom via the 22nd and Penn stop. One question I do have that may change my opinion is how frequent would the proposed 31 and the proposed 30 be scheduled to leave Friendship and/or Tenleytown? For my current work location either route would be good for me, but at my wife’s office only the proposed 31 would be convenient with the reconfiguration.

    @Rich Good points on the M St bike lanes

  5. Eric Stockton
    September 6th, 2013 at 09:29 | #5

    Could this be a time to consider bus service from Friendship Heights to Rosslyn via Wisconsin Ave and Key Bridge? I think it would be a huge hit and good way to divert transfers at Metro Center.

  6. Steve
    September 6th, 2013 at 09:41 | #6

    Does anyone know how heavily used the Friendship to Tenleytown part of the 30s are? I do not usually ride past Tenleytown when I go north. Would it make more sense to turn around more buses at Tenley instead of going all the way to Friendship?

  7. DianeMarie
    September 6th, 2013 at 10:12 | #7

    No 32, 34, 36 on Wisconsin Ave., this is horrible! I hope they really get the word out to passengers who depend on these routes to get to work and to shop in stores along this corridor. As someone who lives on Wisconsin Avenue and over a mile from a metro station, I take the 30-line buses every day. What are the planned intervals for the 30 and 31 buses? Bus bunching and long waits are already a problem during rush hour and weekends, I can only imagine even longer waits What we need is dedicated bus lanes !

  8. DianeMarie
    September 6th, 2013 at 10:15 | #8

    Friendship Heights has a large bus depot, with buses going all across Maryland. There are a lot of passenger transfering to other Metro buses and Ride-on Buses.

  9. Steve
    September 6th, 2013 at 10:42 | #9

    I agree with you on the importance of the 30s. What route are you concerned would be deficient without the 32/36 (assuming the 31/30 has at least as frequent service as the current 31/32/36? A lot of the area is covered with a shift to Metro once downtown for service past Archives. I think the bus bunching and long ways might be improved by the shorter routes. I am all with you for dedicated lanes, but I don’t think Wisconsin is the place for it as it’s too narrow. Now bus signal priority and queue jumper lanes, I think would be a GREAT addition to help speed up buses. Also perhaps a few stop reductions could help speed things up.

  10. Sue
    September 6th, 2013 at 12:06 | #10

    Will the 30 and the 31 replace the 4-5 busses per hour that the 32/36 currently provide from FH to points south (and the additional 5 busses that originate at T’town during morning rush)?

    If so, I can see the logic. If not, this is a really bad plan.

  11. Rick
    September 6th, 2013 at 12:48 | #11

    MUCH more attention has to be put reliability of the 30s lines, including a focus on reducing bus bunching. I tried commuting for a year on the 30s line, but gave up because it was too unreliable. Bus drivers love to blame traffic for bus bunching, but that’s not all of it. A neighbor of mine decided to stand by the Friendship Heights bus depot with a schedule, and noticed how several buses failed to depart on time. When the late drivers finally decided to get moving, the next bus driver had no one to talk to, and he pulled out also. Certainly Metro can model traffic and adjust schedules, but closer attention has to be paid to managing the bus drivers. (A 30s driver once defiantly told me, “the schedule’s wherever I’m at!”)

    One other suggestion: Start an express route at Glover Park, which has no Metro stop. I recall long lines of commuters standing on narrow sidewalks on Wisconsin, trying to board overcrowded 30s line buses. Wouldn’t it be sensible to provide another option, a bus originating in Glover Park?

  12. Andy
    September 6th, 2013 at 13:18 | #12

    LOVE option 1 for the 20 bus. The 90 routes are great neighborhood connectors, send more buses through Capitol Hill!

  13. Steve
    September 6th, 2013 at 13:29 | #13

    I’m all for more 30s service for Glover Park, but Glover Park does have the D1/D2 originating in Glover Park. Also the Circulator starts at the southern end of Glover Park (though Cheh proposed expanding it north to the Cathedral next summer. I agree that the scheduled departure is a problem. Could NextBus assist with this? I think NextBus only handles route and destination. What if NextBus (or a similar system) could notify drivers when to leave and when they are running ahead of schedule to slow down? When they should operate in no stop mode unless requested on the bus because there is another bus going the same route behind them. I know Metro operations tries to keep the trains on more of a paced schedule with schedule adjustments sometimes. I just think there is a lot that can be done without building any new roads to optimize bus flow.

  14. ben
    September 6th, 2013 at 13:33 | #14

    How about some real talk about a dedicated streetcar running from friendship hts down wisconsin ave and vice versa. The 30 buses don’t cut it. Not sure if any improvements will help but right now its a fairly miserable experience riding those buses.

  15. sbc
    September 6th, 2013 at 15:11 | #15

    I take this line from Wisconsin by the Cathedral to 4th and Independence SW and then walk to my house in SW. Going on the freeway would make things worse for me…I’d have to either get off at Foggy Bottom and metro to Federal Center SW or something. So I like option 3 along Independence best. It’s also wonderful for tourists staying in NW and trying to go to the Mall.

    Even better would be if one of the 30 buses ran south along 4th or 7th St. SW and then along M St. SW/SE over the bridge, since that would supplement the P6, V7/8/9 and your proposal for service cuts on the 74. This would be really useful on baseball game nights for fans and staff from upper NW and SE.

  16. Rick
    September 6th, 2013 at 15:19 | #16

    Except for the possibility that streetcar drivers might have less autonomy that bus drivers (which might enhance reliability somewhat), I don’t see how a Wisconsin Ave. streetcar would improve service in a major way absent a dedicated right of way. And a dedicated ROW just isn’t going to happen — witness how long the new street configuration lasted in Glover Park, where basically only one traffic lane was removed. Moreover, Wisconsin below the Georgetown Safeway is too narrow even to think about a streetcar ROW. The bottom line is that streetcars would be subject to the same traffic that buses deal with. I know that streetcars traveled Wisconsin Ave. through sometime in the 1950s without dedicated lanes, but that was before the really explosive growth in Montgomery County — which was a huge traffic generator on Wisconsin Ave. There is no freeway access into Washington, DC from the NW, and Wisconsin serves as one of only a few arterial routes from MoCo into the city.

  17. Scott
    September 10th, 2013 at 09:18 | #17

    Thank you all for your great comments!

    The intention with this proposal is to identify ways to improve service on the 30s line – including increasing reliability and schedule adherence, reducing bus bunching, and maintaining or improving the frequency of service. The 32 and 36 are long routes, and as many of you have already noted, this makes it difficult to ensure service reliability. Currently, delays in any one part of the line have a cascading impact on the rest of the route from Southern Avenue or Naylor Road to Friendship Heights.

    Many of you have commented and questioned about the frequency of service. For those of you in SE, increased service on the 32 and 36 as well as the new route 30 would replace the current trips on route 34. Similarly, for folks along Wisconsin Avenue the route 32 and 36 trips that would be discontinued between Friendship Heights and Washington Circle would be replaced with increased service on the 31 as well as the new route 30. The number of buses passing your stop will remain the same or increase, though the route number and destination may be different.

    In terms of service reliability, we plan to deploy a team of street managers at key locations on the 30s line who would be responsible for (among other things) ensuring on-time departures and maintaining proper spacing between buses.

    We have heard from many people about the need/desire to keep a bus connection between far SE and far NW DC. The proposed route 30 would maintain this connection, but would not travel through the most congested parts of downtown DC. This would hopefully allow for a more reliable and faster trip (some route 32 trips are currently scheduled for 1 hour and 40 minutes). Frequency of service on this route would likely depend on the final alignment and potential ridership market, but is expected to be every 20 to 40 minutes.

    One thing to keep in mind is that this is a preliminary proposal. Nothing has been decided nor set in stone. If you have other suggestions on how you think we should (or should not) restructure the 30s line, we’d welcome the input!

    Don’t forget we have a survey going on for many of the changes we will be presenting at our public hearings next week. If you have not taken it already, here is the link:

  18. Jason
    September 11th, 2013 at 13:51 | #18

    So what about leaving the 31 alone (or extending it east via the State Department and Constitution) and then replacing ALL of the 32 and 36 trips from Friendship Heights with another new route (like 33 or something) that follows your proposal for a rerouted 31. Wouldn’t that solve a lot of the issues people posted already? 32 and 36 would come from SE to downtown and 31 and 33 would come down Wisconsin to downtown. There should be the same (or better) service on Wisconsin Ave and people would still be able to get downtown or to Foggy Bottom. Question is, how far east does the line go? Is Archives far enough or could it go to Eastern Market or Potomac Ave? I rarely travel as far east as Potomac but it would be nice to keep the connection to Eastern Market.

  19. Scott
    September 17th, 2013 at 12:13 | #19

    @Jason This is great idea. Curious what others think.

  20. Katherine stahl
    September 17th, 2013 at 15:06 | #20

    So many of us rely on the 30 buses who live in the area of the Cathedral. I live at 4000 cathedral ave NW and there Re tons of apartments in this are and on Wisconsin and we all rely on the 30 buses to get us to Friendship Heights and M street and to the Mall. Please do not change or eliminate this part if the 30 bus route!!!!

  21. Scott
    September 17th, 2013 at 15:17 | #21

    @Katherine stahl Thanks! Under our proposal you would have the same or better service to the places you listed.

  22. jane mccune
    September 17th, 2013 at 21:09 | #22

    need to keep the service from the Wisc./Cathedral /Mass. stops to 7th St. & Constitution. Only way to get to the Museums. Perhaps you could eliminate some stops…every two blocks for instance…and also have buses dedicated to Anacostia and the most distant points that act more as expresses and do not stop so frequently. this would help service the more distant areas and relieve congestion on the city stops. The Circulator should come up to the Cathedral.

  23. Sue
    September 18th, 2013 at 10:37 | #23

    Do you have timetables to clarify exactly how much service is being added and discontinued? Please do not eliminate buses on any stretch of Wisconsin Ave NW. Mass & Wis needs to be a busy bus hub with good service in all four directions, seeing as it’s a large intersection with no Metrorail stop. Many residents of the area are car-free and rely on Metrobus. The 30 routes need to continue to go all the way to the Mall and Capitol Hill (and beyond, preferably). In my experience, they are almost always overcrowded, even at odd times of the day, at all stages of the route.

  24. Avra
    September 18th, 2013 at 13:06 | #24

    am writing to oppose the proposed changes to bus routes 31, 32, 34, and 36. I am a senior citizen. I live in Glover Park and exclusively use these buses for transportation — to my doctors, to downtown and Capitol Hill for cultural activities, for food shopping and everyday errands. There are 500 more apartments with citizens in my situation in my complex alone. The proposed changes, in combination, will make it impossible to navigate the city for citizens who live at the intersection of Cathedral, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin Avenues. We are at best 1.4 miles from the nearest metro and rely on bus service — to go to Friendship Heights and as far as Capitol Hill to receive medical care, shop for food, etc. It may be that others who live farther north on Wisconsin can readily use the metro (Tenleytown or Friendship Heights). But that is not the case for those of us of who live in this particular neighborhood. May I remind you that the taxis, by policy, can not be reserved for any purpose other than going to the airport or Union Station. We rely on the bus service, which to date has been adequate, for basic needs. The proposed changes will disenfranchise the citizens of my neighborhood from the public transporation promise.

  25. Jennifer Lee
    September 18th, 2013 at 21:21 | #25

    I am also opposing the proposed changes to discontinue the 31, 32, 34, or 36 bus routes. Not all people drive in this area and many in my neighborhood who are retired rely heavily on this bus service. I have never been on a 30 bus that has not been heavily used even on weekends. It is a direct route from the Cathedral to the Mall and the Smithsonian museums, not to mention shopping. I can not imagine that discontinuing such a popular route would be beneficial in any way to our neighborhood. Many young people who attend the Universities in the area also the uses the thirty buses to get around on weekends. In my opinion this service needs to increase NOT decrease and there is no doubt that it should remain intact. There are MANY apartments whose residents live in the area specifically because of the bus access. There is NO metro in close proximity and the buses are a must.

  26. September 22nd, 2013 at 16:13 | #26

    I oppose the proposed changes to bus routes 31, 32, 34, and 36. I live on Cathedral Ave near the intersections of Massachusetts and Wisconsin Aves. I rely on the bus service to get to the Friendship Heights area for doctors and shopping and for access to the Mall and Capitol Hill area for cultural activities. It is a high density neighborhood filled with apartments and condo buildings as well as single houses and many of the residents do not have cars. It is a neighborhood that needs and depends on the current bus service to be maintained, not cut, especially in view of the fact that the busses at any time of day are usually crowded and at rush hour often overflowing. Many working people and students also use these busses to the Metro in order to get to other parts of the city or the greater metropolitan area, where they may work or go to school. They really need the busses since there are no “park and ride” facilities connected to the city Metro stations.

  27. C Doherty
    September 23rd, 2013 at 14:55 | #27

    it’s really interesting that as a daily rte 34 bus rider, I never saw a notice of the “public meetings” that were held at locations curiously distant from the 34 rte. Could this be just a coincidence? It is apparent that WMATA has no interest in hearing from people whose children will be impacted by this cavalier disposal of the 34. I certainly understand why the 34 is up for being removed. At least twice a week the driver covers the farebox with his hand to indicate that the machine is not functioning, which of course cuts ridership numbers. And yes, there is too high a percentage of the riders that feel they should ride for free or self discounted rates. But that really should not be the basis for punishing those of us who pay our fares. Unless some one is obviously drunk, I have rarely seen any driver refuse a “freebie” ride. WMATA needs to spend a little more time observing their drivers’ behaviour and maybe discipline the more obvious “big spenders” who are allowing people to ride for free. And, yes, I would pay a somewhat higher fare to keep the 34 line. It’s unfortunate, that this will hurt most the working poor, the elderly and young people of Southeast Washington who can least afford to take other forms of transportation.

  28. Steven M. Goldberg
    September 23rd, 2013 at 17:24 | #28

    Please answer a question for me if you would be so kind? Recently maps were distributed showing “proposed service changes for Metrobus Routes, B21, B22, B29, B31, C28. In particular, B29 which for many years has provided transportation for people living in Anne Arundel County to New Carrolton’s Metro Rail and MARC train, is now suddenly proposed to be eliminated. What I cannot fathom is why the hearings to which all are invited are located no where near the location of the proposed eliminated route riders. By the way, I count at least 50 such riders on each of three early morning buses which leave from Crofton every weekday morning. Why not have a meeting in Bowie or Crofton instead of DC or Hyattsville?

    What if you extended the line to include the Crofton Shopping Center on Route 3? That would expand ridership, reduce pollution due to car travel and cut down the crowded traffic on Rte. 50 every day. Metro would be serving more riders and expanding its green footprint. What do you think of that idea, which more than one fellow rider has suggested to me as we discuss this issue?


    S.M. Goldberg
    Commuter to DC from Crofton

  29. SonnyJFan
    September 24th, 2013 at 13:01 | #29

    The 34 and 36 need to expand their routes up to the Bethesda Station – instead of being changed farther south on Wisconsin Ave!

  30. Michael
    October 8th, 2013 at 22:33 | #30

    With the changes of the route what about the buses that run late at night 1am and 2am for people going to or leaving from work when Metrorail is closed will there be 30, 31, 32 and 36’s so that riders can transfer with the same frequency as now ?

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