Levels of Public Transit Stops
Underground metro station
Semi-exposed metro station (Ft. Totten-Green line)
Exposed above ground metro station
Sheltered-enclosed bus stop
Bus shelter with roof
Stick with bus sign
I read another blogger’s rant about how we need to get over our biases about the bus, but you know, after riding the buses in the DC Metro area for over a decade, and whatever biases I have about the bus, are based on experience. I still ride the bus, but I have no romantic notions about it. It is, what it is.
I’ve been stuck in unpleasant weather, late for something, exposed to the elements, wearing something not suitable for standing still in a puddle or ice pack for more than 10 minutes, while waiting for a bus that either came 5 minutes early or is 1/2 an hour late, enough times to know what its limits are. Because some routes are so unpredictable, despite a bus schedule, I cannot count how many times I have chased down buses, run across several lanes of traffic (yes, not safe, yes I could get killed that way…) to beat the bus to the next stop, and in some situations fail and only be out of breath and have a pained side to show for my trouble. Thankfully, places where I’ve worked have a flexible schedule so my inconsistent arrival to work won’t cost me my job. I don’t know know if all bus riders have that luxury.
I lived in PG County where the bus service on the weekend seemed non-existent. When I lived there The Bus did not exist and neither did many sidewalks. It didn’t help matters that even the taxi service seemed useless too. So until I moved closer to a metro station, the District and anything else further than where I could bike to was unavailable to me. It was too much of a hassle to wait 15 minutes before the scheduled arrival for a bus that would most likely show up late on the off chance it might show up early. And woe if a transfer to another bus was needed.
However, living in the city the bus is part of my transportation system. If I need to be somewhere on time, I take the train. Or, if the route is a trustworthy one, where the buses are typically consistent, I’ll take the bus. The center part of the city is dense enough that I can come across another bus, or in some cases just walk to the nearest metro station, or bite the bullet and take a cab provided I’m within 2 zones of my destination. In PG and some parts of Arlington, those other options weren’t always there.
The bus is useful, but in some cases you have to ask how much is your time worth, and is it worth spending in wait.