ACT September meeting: Metro night-time bus service
The Action Committee for Transit's September meeting features Jim Hamre, WMATA's director of bus planning. The topic will be night time bus services and the study that WMATA is conducting (a small study, not a huge study) on the topic.
In DC, WMATA runs a number of bus lines almost 24 hours, just a bit short, about 22.5 to 23 hours, including the X bus on H St. NE, the 70s line, the 30s line, etc. But there is very limited bus service along major suburban corridors at night.
E.g., in the late 1980s, I missed the last train from White Flint and ended up taking a bus down Rockville Pike to Friendship Heights and then connecting to a DC-based 30s bus (I think), and then catching the X bus to get back home. Today, there is no late night Metrorail service down Rockville Pike. Or I missed the last train from West Falls Church after a concert at the State Theatre...
For me the issues are:
1. Providing a "Night Owl" service that would parallel the Metro lines when Metrorail is not in service (see the past blog entry "Night moves: the need for more night time (and weekend) transit service, especially when the subway is closed" and "Overnight transit service");
2. Which would also provide overnight service in suburban areas which are underserved currently;
3. Ensuring that night time demand is adequately served with an appropriate level of equipment, headways, etc. ("Washington Post article on the demand for night-time bus services");
4. Dealing with crime and other problems (such as those in Anacostia, see the past blog entry "Cut and run: transit and crime");
5. Branding "Night Owl" service, producing maps, etc. (this post isn't about night-time service specifically, but includes a variety of points about better branding bus service, "Making bus service sexy and more equitable" and "Transit riding as customer service");
6. Ensuring service to the area's airports when Metrorail isn't running and planes are still flying (see "More on airport-related transit" and other links within the entry), which could necessitate route changes compared to when Metrorail does run (e.g., the B30 should leave from DC to BWI when Metrorail doesn't run; and service needs to be added to and from DC to National Airport, which for the most part is not provided when Metrorail doesn't run, etc.).
WRT the latter, note that New York MTA has instituted 24-hour bus service to LaGuardia Airport from the closest LIRR station, Woodside, which also connects to the 7 subway line. See "New Q70 bus will cut time to LaGuardia" from the New York Daily News (based on an MTA press release).
Nite Owl Service inset map, from the 1946 Capital Transit map.