Washington Post article on the demand for night-time bus services
The Washington Post ran a story, "Along 16th street, late-night workers often are left behind by overcrowded buses," a few days ago about the demand for better bus service at night, to serve workers going home, but in time periods outside of the traditional early evening rush hour.
From the article:
Hours after most white-collar workers have settled in their homes, a second evening rush crowds the region’s bus system. Between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m, conversations commence in Spanish, Thai and Amharic among bus riders ending shifts downtown as security guards, cleaners, servers and busboys.
That is, if they can get on the bus.
After 7 p.m., the 16th Street routes, known as the S2 and the S4, are the city’s most crowded. Bodies squeeze up against the exit doors by the time the bus hits 16th and P, the ninth of 51 stops between the Federal Triangle and Silver Spring Metrorail stations. Bus arrivals are erratic, waits are long and patience is a necessity.
Almost seven years earlier, the Post ran a similar article, "Progress Has Passed Metrobus By: Outdated System Is Plagued by Unreliable Schedules, Inefficient Routes," which I wrote about at the time in "Agustin (and many others) have a hard time hopping on the bus."
Since that time, WMATA has had major initiatives to improve bus service, although these initiatives have been impacted by an ongoing funding crisis in the post-real estate crash recession, which has reduced ridership revenues and the ability of local governments to provide more funding.
And at some level, even with improvements, bus service quality and frequency reaches limits--although it's fair to say that with the exception of a couple high-volume lines in no place in the Metrobus system are lines reaching their limit of being able to be improved, even without dedicating lanes for exclusive service, or upgrading to streetcar or light rail.
But the new article does re-raise the issue of how to do transit planning generally, by differentiating between network breadth, demand, level of service (by time of day), and level of quality in terms of transportation policy, goals and objectives vs. the provision of the desired service profile.
See "Metropolitan Mass Transit Planning: Towards a Hierarchical and Conceptual Framework."
Also, Montreal's high frequency service initiative for their bus service is yielding ridership increases. See coverage from the Montreal Gazette.