Staff Editorial: Planned bus investments represent sound strategy

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14th Street NW is a busy bus corridor. (Brian Kapur/Current file photo)

The subway system’s ongoing woes, the city’s growing population and the region’s traffic gridlock all contribute to make a strong bus system more important than ever for the District. And that’s why we’re particularly encouraged by efforts to preserve or improve Metrobus service in two key corridors: 14th Street NW and upper Wisconsin Avenue NW.

On 14th Street, residents have long pushed for express bus service, which the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had recommended in a 2012 study. Not only would it solve capacity and reliability issues for commuters in that corridor, but improved service on 14th Street would win back some riders who now ride the ultra-crowded 16th Street buses. At a recent D.C. Council hearing on transportation issues, several residents living near 14th Street said they walked to 16th to use its superior bus service.

We’re gratified to see that Mayor Muriel Bowser has decided to fund the operating costs of the new 59 Metrobus line, which would offer limited-stop rush-hour service between the Takoma and Federal Triangle Metrorail stations. The mayor’s proposed $1.2 million investment, scheduled to be announced today, would allow service to begin in December. While the spending will need D.C. Council approval as part of Mayor Bowser’s budget for the next fiscal year, many members have already been pushing for this bus service, easing the path considerably. We’d like to commend the mayor, council members, affected advisory neighborhood commissions and ordinary riders who have all worked to improve 14th Street for bus commuters.

Meanwhile, we’re also glad that Metro recently responded to pressure from its riders to retain another limited-stop rush-hour bus line: the 37 route, which connects the Friendship Heights and Archives Metro stations. Metro officials proposed eliminating it, citing duplication with other Wisconsin Avenue bus service, but riders argued that the 37 has a vital distinction: It follows Massachusetts Avenue NW to Dupont Circle rather than slogging through congested Georgetown. Once again, advocates for better transit service worked hard and made their case successfully to the officials who needed to hear their input. We’d like to congratulate all involved.