Tactical thinking about DC bus improvements: Part 2, Connecticut Avenue
As mentioned in a January blog entry, "Understanding why Upper Northwest DC residents don't buy into the sustainability mobility paradigm," Upper Northwest DC residents use automobiles much more than they ride transit, walk or bike. But just like in the core, it varies. Rowhouse neighborhoods served by subway stations (Petworth, probably Friendship Heights) are more likely to use transit. And with the addition of apartment buildings to areas around transit stations, like at Petworth and Takoma, transit ridership in those areas has increased as well.
Even so, sustainable mobility use is much more possible for many even if they don't think so, and even if large swathes of this part of the city have sub-standard transit access.
Basically, the city has four types of bus service. (1) high frequency service on major arterials, like the bus service on 16th Street NW (S bus) or H Street-Benning Road (X bus); (2) neighborhood bus service between various activity centers and transit stations (like the 62 bus between Takoma and Petworth Stations); (3) the Circulator service downtown and in some neighborhoods; and (4) private shuttle services between subway stations and campuses, mostly for the universities like Georgetown and Howard, the Washington Hospital Center, although many federal government agencies run shuttle services also.
To better serve the differing needs of communities, based on transit station proximity, density, and need, I have argued that the city needs to redefine how it provides transit, including the provision of intra-neighborhood service (which will be the subject of post #3 in this series).
In the entry "Making bus service sexy and more equitable," I suggest using double deck buses, at least on certain routes, as a way to rebrand transit service as hip and forward.
After all, a key element of how we think about London (part of its brand) are the distinctive double deck buses there.
While I think it's a pretty short walk to the Friendship Heights Metro Station from Upper Connecticut Avenue, a rapider bus as a double deck bus on Connecticut Avenue, could be in order, to improve transit access and utility in that part of the city.
Making it a double deck bus would allow for significant rebranding and repositioning, and would provide better service to an underserved area.
Wouldn't using double deck buses, even more than "Bus Rapid Transit" lines, rebrand bus service as super cool?
Double deck bus in Blackpool which prominently markets the bus service as cool--"I'm on the bus." Image from the Mattybuzz blog.
And with regard to both the previous entry and this one, I like how some of the UK transit operators brand major destinations on various bus routes. DC did this for the first Circulator line, but the same design has been extended to other routes, even though the destinations on those other lines are different.
These bus lines served by Blackpool Transport on the Flyde Coast brand the separate lines:
The #22 is branded the "Catch 22" bus line, which I think is quite spiffy. But I think this bus is operated by another firm.
Blackpool Trams blog.
As far as Upper Connecticut Ave. is concerned, I'd probably recommend two different services, one between Van Ness Station and Chevy Chase/DC-MD border, and one between Connecticut Avenue and the Friendship Heights Metro.