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Why Metrobus Matters for a Region full of Bus Systems

December 14th, 2016 2 comments

James HamreJim Hamre, the Director of Metrobus Planning and Scheduling, explains that although decision-making often gets made at the local level, Metrobus is a collective regional asset that is critical to the region’s success.

Metrobus Has Long Been an Important Part of a Coordinated Regional System

For decades, Metrobus and local bus operators have coordinated to develop and enhance the regional transportation network. Local systems have strategically expanded service in places where Metrobus did not exist, was not well suited to serve, or did not have fleet or facility resources as the rail system expanded and changed travel patterns. Considerable time and effort went into the restructuring of bus services to coincide with the expansion of Metrorail to form a balanced network that generally made policy, practice and economic sense. The 1997 Regional Mobility Panel (PDF) reestablished the importance of a regional bus network, and delineated the general service responsibility among local providers and Metrobus, although the local/regional balance has changed in the intervening years.

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Metrobus and RideOn sharing access to the newly opened Silver Spring Transit Center.  Source, WMATA.

Among other factors, Metrobus is important to the region because it: Read more…

New Metrobus schedules begin this Sunday

June 23rd, 2016 No comments

On Sunday, June 26, service changes will take effect on Metrobus routes across the region.

Bus%20Gallery%20Place%20041816-5908[1]These adjustments aim to improve system reliability, route simplicity, and customer service. The bulk of this service change impacts bus routes in Virginia. Check below to see if your routes will be affected and look up upcoming timetables here.

DC: 42, 52, 53, 54, 60, 79, D1, E2, E4, G2, L2, N2, N3, N4, N6, A2, A6, A8, A42, A46, A48, D3, D4, G8, P6, V1, V2, V4, X1, X3, X9

MD: B29, B31, J11, J12, J13, K11, K12, R12, V14

VA: 1A, 1B, 1C, 1E, 1Z, 2B, 3T, 4A, 4B, 9A, 10A, 10B, 10E, 10R, 10S, 15M, 17M, 18E, 18J, 18P, 21A, 21D, 23A, 23B, 23T, 28X, 29K

Metrobus Z-Line Will Get a Revamp on March 27

March 23rd, 2016 3 comments

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Z Line buses at the Silver Spring Transit Center in November 2015. Photo by WMATA.

Bus riders on the Z routes on Colesville Road/Columbia Pike (MD US29) will see better service, simpler route names, and more, starting March 27.

Metro is overhauling the bus schedules on the Z-lines in the Silver Spring-Laurel area. The changes are derived from the recommendations from the Metrobus Z-Line Study, an in-depth planning process. The study, completed in January 2015, was a joint effort between Metro, the Maryland Department of Transportation, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation to improve service. These seven routes combined have some of the highest ridership in the Metrobus system, making the corridor ripe for evaluation and improvement.

The following changes for the Colesville Road / Columbia Pike (MD US29) (PDF) corridor are effective March 27.

What’s Coming:

  • The new Z Lines will consist of the Z2, Z6, Z7, Z8, and Z11, with new timetables.
  • Z9, Z13, and Z29 route designations will be eliminated.

New Saturday service will be added to Route Z6, providing customers with links to commercial developments in Westfarm area and the Plum Orchard Shopping Center. The new service will operate every 30 minutes. The Z8 on Saturday will be reduced to operate every 30 minutes, providing a coordinated 15 minute service along portions shared with the Z6. Additionally, trip times for weekday Z2, Z6 and Z8 service will change to improve on time performance and better coordinate buses along Colesville Road and Lockwood Drive.

Routes Z9 and Z29 will be discontinued and replaced by new route Z7. Route Z7 will provide service from Silver Spring Metrorail Station to South Laurel Park and Ride serving: Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville Crossing Park and Ride, Sweitzer Lane, Van Dusen Road, and Cherry Lane.  The new Z7 will increase the frequency of service to residents of South Laurel by operating every thirty minutes.

Route Z11 will be extended from Greencastle Park and Ride to Burtonsville Crossing Park and Ride via Columbia Pike (US-29). Current Z29 customers boarding buses at the stops in the area of Blackburn Road will now be served by the Z11. Route designation Z13 will be discontinued. Passengers currently using the Z13 in the morning to get to Greencastle may opt to take routes Z6 and Z8 instead.

With the new services, passengers out of Burtonsville Crossing Park and Ride will now see increased service to Silver Spring. All current boarding and alighting restrictions along Colesville Road and Columbia Pike will remain in place.

These changes will allow Metro to better align resources to provide effective service in the corridor.

Check out the upcoming timetables to plan your trip.

Bus Service Is Improving for Greenbelt residents, including new Sunday service and more

March 22nd, 2016 No comments

We are improving bus service to the Greenbelt area at the end of March – simpler routes, better coordination with other routes, and new weekend service!

Residents, local advocates, and city officials in Greenbelt have been asking for improved service for years, and for good reason. Demand for bus service in Greenbelt is high – the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line has the highest Saturday ridership of any lines with 6 day-a-week service. So last year, our bus planners proposed a series of changes that would improve bus service in the Greenbelt area. After an extensive public outreach process, a planning staff recommendation, and a board approval, we got the green light! The changes at Greenbelt, along with many others, begin March 27.

What’s coming to Greenbelt?

  • New Sunday service on routes G12, G14, and C2!
  • Simplifications to the College Park Line (routes 81, 82, 83, 86) and the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line (routes G12, G13, G14, G16)
  • Elimination of the low-performing Greenbelt-Prince George’s Plaza Line (route R3)

On the College Park Line and Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line, we are removing routing nuances and complicated lines to make bus service more consistent and understandable to customers.

Original map submitted to the public and board for G12,13,14,16 changes in FY2015 that are being implemented on March 27, 2016.

Original map submitted to the public and board for G12,13,14,16 changes in FY2015 that are being implemented on March 27, 2016.

On the College Park Line, route 83 will now run seven days a week. Now that we’re adding Sunday C2, G12, and G14 service (see below), the Sunday-only route 81 is no longer needed, so we will replace it with route 83 trips. At its inception, the 81 was a route 83 variation intended to give Greenbelt Sunday service when there was no other bus route serving Greenbelt Metrorail station on Sundays.  This means that route 83 will run seven days a week, and the College Park Line will consistently serve the College Park – U of MD Metrorail station.

On the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line, route G13 and G16 trips will be replaced with G14 trips (though some early morning trips will continue to bypass Beltway Plaza) and service on Aerospace Road will be eliminated due to low ridership. We are also adding Sunday service! The result of the restructuring is that the Greenbelt-New Carrollton Line will consist of two routes – G12 and G14 – that will run seven days a week. Even better, the Saturday and Sunday schedules will be the same, so riders only need to remember a weekday and weekend schedule. Read more…

New Route Schedules Coming Sunday, March 27

March 21st, 2016 No comments

Metro is changing bus schedules across the region starting Sunday, March 27. Stay tuned to PlanItMetro for an in-depth look at two of the biggest changes: the Greenbelt area, and the Z-Lines.

Metrobus planners will be implementing schedule adjustments to improve reliability, route simplicity, and customer service.  Most of these changes are the latest round in Metro’s ongoing State of Good Operations process.

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Check below to see if your routes will be affected by any of the changes, then prepare yourself for March 27 by viewing the new timetables.

  • DC: 34, 45, 56, 63, 64, 90, 92, 93, A8, B8, B9, E2, G8, H6, H8, H9, S2, S4, S9
  • MD: 81, 82, 83, 89, 89M, C2, C8, G12, G13, G14, G16, J5, J7, J9, K11, K12, Q1, Q2, Q4, R3, V14, V15, W19, Y2, Y7, Y8, Z2, Z6, Z7 (NEW), Z8, Z9, Z11, Z13, Z29
  • VA: 3Y, 7A, 7H, 7X, 7Y, 16H, 16X, Metroway, S91 (TAGS)

Preparing for Winter: Metrobus Snow Operations Plan now available

January 11th, 2016 No comments

Prepare yourselves for the winter season by checking out the Metrobus Snow Service Plan on the Metrobus Snow Service webpage.

MetroExtra 79 to Silver Spring

MetroExtra 79 to Silver Spring. Photo by WMATA staff.

Every year, Metrobus planners review the Snow Operations Plan for the coming winter. Snow service is a large joint effort between planning and operations. The communication between departments begins early as we make adjustments for route changes from the previous year and reflect back on what we can improve for the upcoming season.

Metrobus operates 3 levels of service during snow events:

Light snow conditions typically have less than 2” of snow without packing or ice. Most routes are expected to operate, possibly under the Light Snow Detour routing.

Moderate snow conditions mean service is suspended on many routes and any route with a snow detour route will be operating under the snow detour.

Severe snow conditions include heavy snowfall with packed snow and/or ice. Bus service will be suspended on all but the busiest routes and any route with a snow detour route will be operating under the snow detour.

In the event of a total service shutdown, no bus service will operate until conditions improve. Customers will receive as much notice as possible before service is suspended.

Example Snow Detour Map. Under Light, Moderate, and Severe Snow Levels, the T18 will not serve Bladensburg High School and will stay on Annapolis Rd.

Example Snow Detour Map. Under Light, Moderate, and Severe service levels, the T18 runs on Annapolis Rd. and does not serve Bladensburg High School.

Bus operations and communications staff will make their best effort to give notice before changing service. The best way to get information is to sign up for MetroAlerts and to check www.wmata.com and the local media for alerts.

Look up your routes on the Metrobus Snow Service webpages to see if your routes operate in Light, Moderate, and Severe service levels and whether your routes have snow detours. Then, when Metrobus announces a snow service level, you’ll be ready.

Route 42 to Metro Center last March. Photo by Ginger.

Route 42 to Metro Center last March. Photo by Ginger.

Categories: Metro 101 Tags: , , ,

Metrobus Service Change Takes Effect December 13

December 10th, 2015 No comments

Bus schedules are being updated for 25 routes across DC, Virginia, and Maryland, starting Sunday, December 13.

F4 bus at Prince George’s Plaza. Photo by WMATA staff.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Timetable adjustments: 22A, 30N, 30S, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 62, D32, F14, J2, J3, J7, P12, REX, TAGS
  • More trips: 26A
  • Reroute or bus stop change: 3A, 3Y, 17B, 17L, 18H, F4, S9

Most of the service changes are minor adjustments to trip times. Check out the service advisory for more detail and the upcoming schedules to plan accordingly.

The biggest changes affect riders of the 3A, 3Y, and 26A. This group of changes is a product of the 2015 Bus State of Good Operations process to improve service in the Lee Highway corridor around East Falls Church.

The 3A Lee Highway-Falls Church line will no longer operate between East Falls Church Metrorail and Rosslyn Metrorail stations along Lee Highway. Route 3A will be shortened and only operate between Annandale and East Falls Church Metrorail station. On weekends and holidays, the 3A will be extended to serve the Seven Corners Transit Center.

Service along Lee Highway between East Falls Church and Rosslyn will be provided by new Arlington Transit (ART) Route 55. The ART 55 will serve all current Arlington County 3A stops and operate seven days a week, with increased midday and weekend service. Check out the new 3A schedule and the new ART 55 schedule. Questions about the ART 55 service should be directed to Arlington County.

We are extending the 3Y westward along Lee Highway to East Falls Church. The 3Y will now connect downtown DC, Rosslyn, and East Falls Church. The route will no longer operate along George Mason Drive, Patrick Henry Drive, or Harrison Street. The stops on at N Harrison St @ Patrick Henry Dr and N George Mason Dr @ Patrick Henry Dr will be discontinued.

We are adding more trips to the 26A during peak periods. The 26A will run every 30 minutes from approximately 5:30-9:00am and 3:30-7:00pm. Current ridership is satisfactory at the 60-minute frequency, but the increased peak period service should make the 26A more attractive to both current and potential riders.

See if there will be updates to your routes below, then prepare yourself for December 13 by viewing the updated schedules.

DC: 30N, 30S, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 62, D32, S9

MD: F4, F14, J2, J3, J7, P12

VA: 3A, 3Y, 17B, 17L, 18H, 22A, 26A, REX, S80 (TAGS)

Metro Considers H/I Bus Lanes to Ameliorate Streetcar Construction

November 23rd, 2015 6 comments

Construction of the K Street Transitway and Union Station to Georgetown Streetcar might result in some growing pains, but Metro & DDOT already have a remedy.

The H/I/K Streets NW Corridor is a heavily congested corridor with traffic frequently backed up and traffic jammed at rush hour. Fortunately, DDOT has approved the K Street Transitway, an exclusive two-way, two-lane median east-west transitway between 20th and 9th Streets NW, to improve the transit and traffic conditions in this corridor. The transitway would also be utilized by a future Union Station to Georgetown streetcar.

Construction of the transitway will likely take a lane or two away from an already congested corridor and Metro would need to reroute our buses to ensure safety and performance.

Current K Street bus service would likely need to detour via H and I Streets NW, but H and I Streets are at capacity!

At rush hour, cars, bikes and pedestrians all fight for limited street space along H and I streets NW.  It is common to see bottlenecks, strings of red brake lights, packed crosswalks and cars moving at a sluggish 10.8 MPH through the corridor during the PM Peak.   These delays impact our bus service along the corridor.  How much service do we have there?  A lot.  Read more…

Board Approves 2015 Bus SOGO

November 20th, 2015 No comments

State of Good Operations (SOGO) changes coming to a Metrobus route near you.

Metrobus planning presented the annual 2015 Bus State of Good Operations recommendations (PDF) to the Board on November 19. The package was approved and customers will see some changes starting in December. The remainder of the changes will roll out with Metrobus’ March and June schedule changes. 

Staff provided SOGO proposal information at outreach events and pop ups, including at the Pentagon Transit Center

Staff provided SOGO proposal information at outreach events and pop ups, including at the Pentagon Transit Center, photo by WMATA

The annual SOGO process seeks board approval for changes to Metrobus service. Every year,  planners put together a comprehensive list of Metrobus routes they want to improve in the coming year. Any major service change must be approved by the board. A major Metrobus service change is defined as

  • Change in span of service on a line of more than one hour in a single fiscal year,
  • Change in revenue miles on a line of more than 20% in a single fiscal year,
  • Change in route miles on a line of 15% in a single fiscal year, or
  • Projected change of 10% of the riders on a line in a single fiscal year.

This year, planners were tasked with improving service, reliability, travel time, and crowding while keeping the proposals budget and cost neutral.  The recommendations must not have a disparate impact on minority populations or a disproportionate burden on low income populations. Read more…

The (Hidden) High Cost of Cheap Real Estate

September 24th, 2015 6 comments

As jurisdictions balance the need to redevelop “prime” Metrobus garage sites, new facilities are located in less desirable and cheaper real estate submarkets.  That may sound like great business sense, but it has an impact on non-revenue (or “deadhead”) mileage, creating scheduling challenges and adding millions of dollars in additional operating costs to operate Metrobus service. This trend will increase into the future.

Today, Metro dispatches 1,634 buses for 315 bus routes from only nine bus garages spread throughout Virginia, the District, and Maryland. In a perfect world, Metrobuses would magically appear at the start of a bus route and no additional costs would be incurred. In reality, many bus routes begin far from their assigned bus garages, and travel long distances before they can begin service.

Excluding our two youngest bus divisions (both replacement divisions built in the last five years), the median age of our bus divisions is 61.5 years. These facilities need more than just tender loving care to keep up with today’s service demands.  For example, older garages are not equipped to deal with modern buses (the 70-year-old Royal Street bus division was literally too short for modern buses). And only two garages, Four Mile Run in south Arlington and Bladensburg in northeast DC, are equipped to handle Metro’s 457 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.  So often times Metrobus needs new facilities despite the tantalizing prospect of simply refurbishing old ones.  These new facilities fall under the category of “LULU” – Locally Unwanted Land Use.  Many do not want to live near a bus division, but if the region wants bus service, we need bus garages.

So, bus divisions get pushed out farther and farther from central locations and the neighborhoods where the customers are.  All sounds logical so far, except for the fact that the buses now need to travel further to start revenue service.  All of this extra journey time simply to get from the division to the customer adds extra deadhead miles to each route. That deadhead is now starting to cost big bucks.

Since 2007, increased deadhead miles have added $5 million to the cost to operate Metrobus.

Since 2007, increased deadhead miles have added $5 million to the cost to operate Metrobus.

Since 2007, Metrobus’ total operating costs have increased $5 million to cover an increase of 1,700 daily deadhead miles. Closures of bus divisions have had a large impact on operations, steadily increasing daily deadhead miles from the 22,500 mile baseline. The 2008 closure of Southeastern Bus Division (now the Half Street Fairgrounds) as part of the Navy Yard/Nats Park redevelopment caused daily deadhead miles to jump nearly 2,200 miles. Most of the remaining DC garages and Southern were forced over their normal capacity limits, and some service was shifted to Montgomery Division. A year later, the World War II-era Arlington bus division closed and capacity was shifted to the new West Ox Division in Fairfax County. Shepherd Parkway Division opened in 2012, 4 years after its predecessor Southeastern closed, bringing overall deadhead miles about 600 miles shy of the 2007 baseline. Two years later, the Royal Street bus division in Alexandria closed, increasing miles once again.

Metro had intended to hold off closing the Royal Street bus division until after the opening of Cinder Bed Road. The project was substantially delayed to accommodate neighborhood concerns, and we were unable to mitigate the 1,127 mile increase in deadhead during the protracted delay.

The animated graphic below shows the change in deadheading between 2007 and current.  Read more…