Metro’s future of bus service could bring new routes and end some familiar stops

The future of Metrobus service could include 30 new bus lines, overnight rides to the airport and buses getting you to your destination faster, but the change would come at a cost — the ending of 600 bus stops.

The possible changes come as Metro leaders presented their 2025 Better Bus Network plan to Metro’s board on Thursday.

“The proposed 2025 network is constrained and focused on optimizing service to grow ridership, because we are anticipating limited resources at Metro and from the region for the next budget year,” said Tom Webster, Metro’s chief planning and performance officer.

Without additional funding for improvement, the plan calls for closing stops that are very close to another stop, have low ridership or are not safe for people waiting for the bus. Also, some bus lines will be consolidated, and some routes modified, too.

“We did have to, in some cases — some select cases — reduce service in areas where there’s very low ridership and low density,” said Peter Cafiero, director of intermodal planning for WMATA.

Cafiero said the plan also calls for changing the names of the routes, as many date back to a time when other transit companies ran the lines and others were used on city streetcar routes.

“This is a really a generational opportunity to rethink how we labeled our routes and really emphasize to everyone that things are changing you need to focus and work with us to learn the new system,” Cafiero said.

The new name scheme would start with characters that tell you where it serves, such as “D” for D.C., “M” for Montgomery County or “A” for Arlington and Alexandria.

With additional funding, Webster said the new bus network could bring 30-minute frequency for most routes, 30 new routes that would increase connections with Metrorail stations and a regionwide 24-hour bus network, which would provide overnight connections to the region’s airports.

Without additional investment, the plan could attract 13,000 more daily weekday trips, according to Metro. The more costly plan could attract twice as many new customers and provide access to 17,000 more jobs, planners say.

The community can weigh in on the proposed changes online or during public hearings. The Metro board will review and vote on a final plan later this year. The final plan, if adopted, would roll out beginning in April of next year.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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