Jun 13, 2019

DC Bus Lanes to the Rescue

Like many large American cities, Washington is losing bus ridership as transit speeds slow and service falters. DC needs a bus turnaround, and you couldn’t pick a better place to start than H Street and I Street downtown.

These are two of DC’s busiest bus corridors, peaking at 70 buses an hour and serving routes that carry 20% of MetroBus ridership. But buses on these streets travel as slowly as 3.6 mph.

Enter the DC Department of Transportation’s red bus lanes.

This summer, DDOT is testing out a new approach to quickly implement bus priority treatments at low cost. The red lanes clear space for buses during peak hours on several blocks congested with car traffic. They cost only $10,000 but will speed trips for tens of thousands of riders.

In this Streetfilm, five members of the City Council joined DDOT staff and advocates with Greater Greater Washington to ride the bus lanes and experience the difference they make.

The H and I Street lanes are the latest entry in the growing practice of “tactical transit.” Though still relatively rare, a number of US transit agencies are testing out nimble implementation methods, using low-cost materials like paint and signage to increase the speed and reliability of bus trips practically in a matter of days.

In a city where other bus lanes have taken nearly a decade to implement, this project signals a much quicker way to deliver better service for bus riders and should serve as a model for many other bus priority improvements to come.

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