It’s fun to talk about building new subways and light rail lines. But for cities that already have some substantial walkable neighborhoods and basic mass transit infrastructure, probably the most cost-effective thing they can do to improve urban mobility is to invest in improved bus service. One big win along these lines in recent Washington, DC history has been the rise of the S9 express bus. It runs basically along the north-south 16th street route that before its inception was already served by the S1/S2/S4 lines. Those were some of the most popular buses in the city, and what WMATA did was add a new line, the S9, that runs the same route but with fewer stops. Fewer stops mean faster service and it’s all good.
But now comes the word that bus drivers are engaged in some kind of protest against recent concerns about the safety of their driving methods that involves S9 drivers refusing to pass S1/S2/S4 buses as the local buses make their stops. Obviously stopping and waiting at all the local stops completely defeats the purpose of creating an express bus alternative.
Assuming this dispute can get resolved, the next step for the S-buses should be to find portions of 16th Street where it makes sense to create well-enforced bus only lanes by taking lanes away from private automobiles or parking.