Sunday, February 22, 2009

METRO: A 42 Limited Stop? A Palisades-Bound Bus No. 3855?

MANY METRO OFFICIALS don’t use public transportation regularly. Lena H. Sun’s story in The Washington Post is one that gets written every few years checking in on how in-touch Metro’s decision makers are with the average commuter. (Then-General Manager Richard White was criticized for driving an SUV in from his Fairfax home and avoiding the daily pains of the Orange Line crush.) These days, according to The Post, only half of Metro’s board members ride public transit regularly and several haven’t paid their parking fees at Metro headquarters. C’est la vie.

Sun interviews an average commuter who is “actually stunned” with the news.

It’s understandable for some officials who represent some suburban jurisdictions to skip public transit and in some cases, those who are from more urban areas, too. In any regard, a balance should be struck.

But it might do D.C. Council member Jim Graham some good if he rode the bus a little more as his ward is one of the best places in the entire Washington, D.C., region served by transit. And Ward One is generally within a 30-minute bus ride from places Graham needs to go regularly, like the Wilson Building and Metro headquarters downtown.

AS A REGULAR BUS RIDER over the years, I’ve found that you get a better chance to observe your surroundings while riding the bus. And notice problems that need fixing.

Here’s my list from the past week riding the D6 and 42 buses and the Red Line in Northwest Washington:

1. For those who may be unfamiliar with the 42 bus line which runs from Mount Pleasant to downtown via Columbia Road and Connecticut Avenue, it serves Adams Morgan, a top destination for locals and visitors alike. Adding “via Adams Morgan” to the “Mount Pleasant” destination signs is very nice, an update made sometime in the past year or so when I was living in Brooklyn.

But what is the “42 Limited Stop?” Isn’t that the newish 43 bus, which runs only in the peak direction to and from Farragut Square, skipping stops in Dupont Circle? I’ve also recalled, though many months ago, seeing a “D6 Limited Stop” bus on MacArthur Boulevard. Wouldn’t it be nice if that actually existed and skipped Foxhall Village?

2. Hmmm, the No. 3855 bus doesn’t seem to match Metrobus’ route numbering conventions. But on three occasions, the 3855 bus was making D6 stops along MacArthur Boulevard in the Palisades.

3. Wednesday morning of last week, there was a bus with the directional sign reading “D6/Stadium-Armory.” However, the bus operator told people as they tried to enter that it was a D5 bus going to Farragut Square.

4. The Metro Trip Planner seems to be a few minutes off from posted bus schedules, at least along MacArthur Boulevard (at Cathedral Avenue and Newark Street), when compared twice last week. The buses arrived at the time posted at the bus stop, not the Trip Planner. (I will try to keep an eye on this to better document the discrepancies.)

5. Twice last week, D6 buses had a malfunctioning fare card machine and I rode for free, along with many others.

6. Friday evening heading from Gallery Place to Dupont Circle, there was a train bound for “Twinbrook.” heading in the direction of Glenmont. (I think I can diagnose that one fairly easy: Refer to my 2007 Express piece on how even though the Metrorail extension to Dulles extension does not yet exist, train operators can (accidentally) punch in the wrong destination code and still have the train go to “Dulles.”
Oh details ... I should add though that I've had great bus service thus far. The devil's in the details.



At 12:56 AM, Blogger IMGoph said...

i saw the "3855" heading outbound on rhode island avenue a couple weeks ago, where it probably should have said g8 on it. wonder if that's a universal placeholder or something.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger IMGoph said...

and then i saw a "4033" bus running inbound on rhode island avenue this morning. the weirdness continues...

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