Metro hates bus riders

Well that’s the message I get and got really loud and clear this morning when someone decided to move the bus stop from where it was for years to the other side of the terminal, resulting in my bus blowing past me. If Metro truly liked their bus ridership, they would make it easier to ride the bus.
Metro does not make it easy to ride the bus. For my commute I take the train and the bus and believe me the train is way easier. I’m not going to get into the lonely bus stop with just a sign, sometimes not even telling you what bus may come along there, and more often not even hinting what the bus’ schedule is and whether or not it runs on the weekends. Yes, there is the Ride Guide, but that requires getting on a computer or having a mobile device that surfs the web. At the very least, at the train terminals there should be something that tells you where the buses that run around there go. The bus schedules on the kiosk, not always there. The little maps on the bus stop signs, not always there either, particularly if several buses share that sign and their schedules take up every single panel. The maps they do have, not really the most detailed, but at least they are something.
The bus rider is required to do extensive research before engaging in an unfamiliar bus ride. I don’t have to do the same with the train. I look at the subway map in the station that tells me where the different trains go to one of the hundred and something stops. At the train stop there is almost always a neighborhood map that gives me a general idea of where to go from there. But if you want to take a bus from that train stop. Hope that DASH or Ride-On go from there because those bus routes and schedules are more often more helpful than Metro (PG County’s THE BUS is way worse). There is only one station I’ve been in where there was a bus route map for that area (can’t remember if it was the District or Maryland).
Even if you know where the bus is supposed to go the bus terminals at the train station sometimes is quite confusing. One day I had to catch the 80 bus at Ft. Totten. I know where the 80 bus goes and stops from the Union Station area to Brookland, anything beyond that is unfamiliar. So I get to Ft. Totten. There are what seems to be over a dozen bus stops. Luckily there is a Metro employee available to tell me which of the twenty odd bays I’m supposed to catch my bus. I wound up asking an employee because I was standing at a stop that said 80, but not the right direction, which wasn’t clearly marked. It wasn’t the right stop. I had to go to another bay a good 100 feet away from the other bay marked 80. What happens when the metro employee is not to be found, or there are other people ahead of you also in need of the employee’s attention.
Signage and maps. That’s all I want. Take a metro bus map, laminate it, tape it up on the kiosk. Laminating is too much? Then take the map and tape it up. If a route is changed, take a magic marker, and mark it up. Also if a metro station has more than 3 bays for buses, tell me which one I need to go to, because I can’t see from a distance if that 2 inch character is a “3” or a “B” or a “8”.
Come on Metro, show the bus rider some love.

7 thoughts on “Metro hates bus riders”

  1. I did the car-less thing for many years and had many of the same experiences. In my current neighborhood, there are no grocery stores. Does metro have a bus route that would take me from this part of the neighborhood directly to a grocery store? Of course not. Metro lost this once daily bus rider.

  2. I wonder why the Circulator is so nice. Is it just because they are so new? Maybe it’s a matter of maintenance/ up-keep. Is it (Circulator) not part of the Metro system?

  3. Metro has disinvested in the city in favor of the commuter or tourist. That is why the Circulator is so nice. I have nothing against courting tourists, but I do think Metro has done a piss poor job with its bus system for as long as I can remember. Thank goodness I have a computer to look up schcedules and routes for the occassions when I do take the bus.

    And you are soooo right about Prince George’s County. The Metro bus service is downright scandalous. I can think of one stop in particular that is going to result in someone’s death as it is on the side of the road in a ditch and completely unlit. It’s on East-West Hwy across from Home Depot. There are other examples too. The lack of good public transportation is what keeps us married to our cars.

  4. The Circulator has these nice big even-an-idiot-can-figure-it-out maps at their stops. Except at PA & 7th where last I looked the fixture that normally has the map and info has been taken over by the Metro 70 bus schedule.
    YES! I know the ditch you speak of. I just chalked it up to PG County’s hatred of Latino pedestrians (yeah, I decided to throw race into it, I mean everybody is doing it). The sidewalk in front of the East-West highway goes no where. I guess you are supposed to cross diagonally to the sidewalk in front of the PG Mall and it doesn’t connect to anything west of HD.
    I swear the public transportation decisions in PG County are made by Expedition drivers in Upper Marlboro who never rode a bike or walked further than the end of a parking lot.

  5. “Yes, there is the Ride Guide, but that requires getting on a computer or having a mobile device that surfs the web.”

    Actually, you can access it by voice from any phone, but the process ends up something like this:

    Machine: Is your destination an intersection, landmark, or a metro station?

    You: Metro station.

    Machine: What metro station would you like to go to?

    You: Farragut Square.

    Machine: I think you said “FRRGT SQR”, is this correct.

    You: Ummm, yeah.

    Machine: I’m sorry what was that?

    You: [click]

  6. Actually the Circulator is operated by DDOT. DDOT was so frustrated with Metro at refusing to offer decent service to Georgetown, Union Station and on routes that made sense, so they started the Circulator as an experiment. They bought their own equipment and only the drivers are WMATA employees. The Circulator is not part of the Metro system, but is interoperable (ie SmarTrip works) just like suburban bus systems.

    As a regular rider of the G2 and the 30 series (the latter is almost good, except for the “bunching”), I’ve come to accept that Metrobus service is like that in Albania, except you don’t have to bring your own diesel. I’d consider taking the bus to work instead of walking 7 blocks to the nearest metro station, as there’s a stop right outside my apt building. Have I actually ever figured out its schedule? No. I always tell people that the bus comes when it comes.

  7. Oh one last thing. I was talking to a friend of mine today who works at WMATA, and he has asked that anyone who has had problems as a disabled rider or who has used/uses MetroAccess to please direct any criticism and suggestions (especially the latter) to the new director of MetroAccess as they’re trying to get a better focus on that area. The people they removed were stopping the flow of information.

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