From petition drives to public testimony to policy expertise, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and other community members have pushed to implement a dedicated rush hour bus lane for the last six years.
Where We Are Now
Now, DC has run draft preferred alternative – a rush hour dedicated lane going in the peak direction from Arkansas Ave NW to H Street NW – through the computer model. DC officials shared the results of the modeling at a public meeting in January 2016. In March, DDOT released its final report on the proposed changes, including a timeline of when various stages of the project will be completed. Implementation has been divided into three phases, with DDOT currently operating Phase 1. Read more below.
Thank you for all your hard work to help make this a reality. There is an upcoming Public Meeting on July 27, 2017 from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus Cafeteria where the design phase of the project will be discussed. Additionally, an online open house will be available between July 27 and September 1st. We strongly encourage everyone to attend in order to learn more about the project and to provide feedback. Click here for more information on the public engagement meetings.
We’ve sent these email action alerts to our subscribers about our campaign for a bus lane on 16th Street. They’re an excellent way to get up-to-speed on the issue quickly!
Here are some additional great resources to learn more about the campaign for bus lanes on 16th Street:
About DDOT’s Recommended Alternative
According to DDOT’s final report in March 2016, its Recommended Alternative is a combination of improvements from each of the three alternatives presented in late 2015, refined based on public and stakeholder input. Implementation of the Recommended Alternative has been broken down into three phases: (1) less than 18 months, (2) 2 to 4 years, and (3) 4 or more years. DDOT and WMATA are both leading elements of the implementation and will coordinate with other agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Department and Department of Public Works. DDOT anticipates that the bus lanes will be open and operational in 2-4 years, coinciding with the start of off-board fare collection and all-door boarding.
Three Phases of Implementation
The installation of these improvements is spread out over 3 phases, lasting until the project is complete in 2020. DDOT is currently in Phase 1.
The lane will run from Arkansas Avenue south to downtown for 2.7 miles. From Arkansas Avenue to U Street, during rush hour, there’s no parking in either direction during rush hour now, this won’t take any parking away. South of U Street, the street could be restriped from the current 4 lanes to 5 lanes to allow 1 bus lane, 2 lanes of mixed traffic, and keep the non-peak side the same – with one lane for traffic, and one lane for parking.
Q: Is this ever really going to happen?
A: Thanks to your help, it is happening! The project will be implemented starting soon, and finished by 2020. A dedicated rush hour bus lane is already identified as the best next step for 16th Street by a DDOT study. It’s also part of the long term vision in the city’s MoveDC transportation plan.
Q: How long would the bus lane be? Will it fit along the whole corridor?
A: The bus lane will run from Arkansas Avenue south to downtown (H Street NW) for 2.7 miles. The road width can accommodate 3 peak-direction travel lanes and 2 non-peak direction lanes along the entirety of this stretch.
Q: Will bicycles be allowed? How about taxis? Can cars turn right?
A: Yes for bikes; probably no for taxis; and yes for right turning vehicles. For taxis, a more detailed study will determine if they would interfere with the purpose of the transit lane to reduce delay for buses.
Q: What else is being done or could be done to make bus service work better on 16th Street?
A: The big improvement started when Metro added the limited-stop S9 bus in 2009. With this service, ridership soared by 25%. Recently, more buses were added for the lower and most crowded segment of the route. Metro is also beefing up supervisors along the route who help smooth out service. Within 2 years, DC will implement transit signal priority, which keeps buses from getting stuck at intersections by red lights. Off-board fare collection, starting and enforcing rush hour parking restrictions sooner, and running more articulated (extra long) buses would also reduce delay and increase capacity.
Q: Will it take lanes away from cars? Will it take away parking?
A: From Arkansas Avenue to U Street, during rush hour, the curb lane will be repurposed as a dedicated bus lane, while keeping the other 2 lanes for mixed traffic in the peak direction. Since there’s no parking in either direction during rush hour now, this doesn’t take any parking away. South of U Street, the street could be restriped from the current 4 lanes to 5 lanes to allow 1 bus lane, 2 lanes of mixed traffic, and keep the non-peak side the same – with one lane for traffic, and one lane for parking (see picture).
Q: How will it impact traffic congestion for cars and trucks?
A: Motorists will experience slightly more traffic congestion at some intersections, but overall capacity for people using the corridor will increase and will serve unmet demand. Cars and trucks will still move through 16th Street corridor within acceptable congestion levels, based on DDOT and industry standards for levels of traffic delay.
Q: How will the transit lanes be enforced?
A: First, a bus-only lane is distinguished by running enough buses on it. The current number of 16th Street rush hour buses is 27-37 buses per hour, which is considered to be sufficient to claim the lane from mixed traffic. Signage and pavement markings will tell all users that the bus lane is for buses only (bikes will be okay). Second, traffic control officers (TCOs) and police patrol-based enforcement are generally used for enforcement which results in a moving violation for the offender. Automated photo enforcement is used in London, New York and Sydney. New York, Paris, and San Francisco are piloting on-board bus cameras. The current fine for parking in a bus lane or zone in DC is $100. However, DC does not have a law against driving in bus-only lanes. This would need to be changed to ensure enforcement of bus lanes.