City Paper Widget

Thursday, April 2, 2015

16th Street Bus Study: Dedicated Lane a Possibility

REVISED to add quote by former ANC Commissioner Kishan Putta -- see comments.

A new transit study that could result in dedicated bus lanes on 16th Street NW kicked off on March 31 at the Mt. Pleasant Library (3160 16th Street). Megan Kanagy of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) addressed about 100 people who overflowed into the hallway outside the stuffy library meeting room.

Blow-up map of 16th Street at meeting
Kanagy said DDOT would first diagnose bus problems and then consider a number of solutions, including the following:
  • all-door bus boarding 
  • a pilot program of "off-board fare collection"
  • equipping buses with equipment for "signal optimization", meaning, computer chips that will signal traffic lights so they will stay green longer when a bus is approaching and turn green faster when a bus is waiting
  • a dedicated bus lane for 16th Street
About dedicated bus lanes, Kanagy said: "We want to make sure it's really enforced."

To emphasize the problem, she had a photograph of a open moving truck parked in a clearly-labelled bus lane. 

"Just painting it [the lane] white isn't enough," she said.

Kanagy said the level of public outreach on this study was going to be greater than it was on DDOT's 2013 and 2009 studies on the same subject. She also said the study would "drill down block by block" to address causes of bus delays.

The objectives of any changes, she said, would be to improve reliability and travels, to maintain operations, and to accommodate unmet demand.

Before Kanagy's presentation, and again after, attendees could go to a series of easels and displays and add their comments, often by writing on sticky notes or by putting colored dots in various categories to indicate perferences. In one case, there was a three-panel blow-up map of 16th Street (see photo) from the White House to Alaska Avenue and beyond. Participants were encouraged to put tabs on the problem intersections and bus stops. The tabs were color-coded to categories of transit problem -- orange for bunching of buses, blue for overcrowding on buses, and so on.

See the DDOT web page for the 16th Street NW Transit Priority Planning Study here. On this page, those interested can leave comments or sign up to receive additional information.

There is also a shortened URL to the same page:

While campaigning for Mayor last year, Bowser said she was "not sure" about dedicated 16th Street bus lanes because, during rush hour, there was "not a lot of space to add buses" -- see SALM blog post of January 17, 2014. See a video of Bowser answering the question on bus lanes here.

The possibility of future public meetings about the 16th Street Bus study was mentioned, but no meetings are scheduled now -- perhaps in "early fall". The study was scheduled for completion in January 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Former ANC2B Commissioner Kishan Putta, who worked hard on this issue both in and out of office, sent the following comment:

    The meeting was long-awaited and we appreciate how seriously DDOT is taking this. But I looked out on 16th street this morning and saw 6 buses arrive within 45 seconds, saw many cars - moving and parked - keeping buses from reaching people sooner, and saw too many buses passing people without stopping... There are many improvements that can be made but bus lanes need to stay a top consideration. Bike lanes were controversial at first but have worked quite well. It's time for bus lanes.