The bus- not all that, nor a bag of chips

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.

4 thoughts on “The bus- not all that, nor a bag of chips”

  1. i take 1 bus the g2 which runs from 3rd and Bryant NW to 37th and O St. NW along P St. my bus pass is $11. a week for unlimited usage. i can hop on and off and get back on. it’s particular useful when i want to shop near 14th and P, or bank, hardware store and getting around georgetown and the city in general.

    i take the car when i need to drop some trash at fort totten but mostly it sits in the garage now.

    the bus has failed to appear only once in two years and’s never more than 3 minutes late.

    i have time to read the real newspaper, web browse or yack on the phone and not be troubled too much with idiotic drivers.


  2. G2 is a reliable route. But the last time I was on it, it was leaky and rainwater was dripping on several seats.
    The 30s can be a bit flaky and the P2 I’ve had not bothering to show up at least 2x in one month. The 96 has failed me a couple of times, but come often enough that all is forgiven. I don’t bother getting a time table for the 70s or the Convention Center Circulator. It shows when it shows. Otherwise I take the train.

  3. I’m a big fan of the AT8 DASH or the 29N/29K Metrobus.

    But. While moderately reliable, it can be vastly annoying to spend my time trying to catch a bush that will get me to the metro and out of here.

    But- I accept it as part of the cost of living in Alexandria.

  4. Buses I ride most frequently-

    They tend to get crowded and the 90/92 can be interesting on Friday and Saturday nights. The good thing is that, because these are heavily traveled routes, I know a bus will eventually show. And they do. I like having the option of either bus, or metrorail. And frankly, the trains are just as annoying on weekends were they are doing track maintenance.

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