Regional bus service shifting around the region

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Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Changes are coming to local bus service around the region starting Sunday, ranging from new express lines to cuts to existing service.

The most changes are on Metro, which plans to tweak about 30 routes around the region starting Sunday. Alexandria's DASH also will modify some service then. On Monday, D.C.'s Circulator and Arlington County's ART will be changing up some service. Later in the month, Fairfax County's Connector will switch up routes. And starting Nov. 5, Prince George's County's TheBus will be raising fares 25 cents to $1.25.

"It's the process of continuous maintenance of the Metrobuses," explained James Hamre, who heads Metro's bus planning.

Changes coming to regional bus service
Sunday:
Alexandria's DASH will change five routes, including discontinuing some weekend, midday and night service on these routes: AT1, AT3/4, AT 4, AT6, AT7
Metro is planning to change service on 30 routes, including:
D.C.: Dulles Line, Route 5A; Mount Pleasant Line, Routes 42, 43; U Street - Garfield Line, Routes 90, 92, 93; East Capitol Street-Cardozo Line, Route 96 and Benning Road Line, Route X3; Glover Park-Federal Triangle Line, Route D1.
Maryland: Bowie State University Line, Route B21; Central Avenue Line, Route C21; Pointer Ridge Line, Route C28; Oxon Hill-Suitland Line, Route D12; College Park-Bethesda Limited Line, Route J4; I-270 Express Line, Routes J7, J9; Indian Head Express Line, Route W19; Georgia Avenue-Maryland Line, Routes Y5, Y7, Y8, Y9;
College Park-White Flint Line, Route C8/Ride On Route 10.
Virginia: Wilson Boulevard Line, Route 1A ; Washington Boulevard Line, Routes 2B,G; Huntington-Pentagon Line, Route 9E; Hunting Point-Pentagon Line, Route 10E; Chain Bridge Road Line, Route 15L; Columbia Pike Line, Routes 16A, B, D, J ; Columbia Pike-Federal Triangle Line, Route 16F; Columbia Heights West-Pentagon City Line, Routes 16G, H; Columbia Pike-Farragut Square Line, Route 16Y; Leesburg Pike Limited Line, Route 28X; Richmond Highway Express, aka REX.
Monday:
Arlington County's ART bus system will change three routes, including the removal of some stops: 53, 74 and 84.
D.C.'s Circulator will be adding stops to the Potomac Avenue-Skyland route, implementing a shared stop for the Union Station-Navy Yard and Union Station-Georgetown route near Union Station.
Oct. 15:
Fairfax County's Connector will modify four routes, including eliminating some service: 231, 232, 333 and 334.
Nov. 5:
Prince George's County's TheBus fares will rise from $1 to $1.25, though those 60 and older will continue to ride for free. Middle and high school students with school IDs ride free from 2 to 7 p.m.

Specifically, Metro is rolling out new Metro Express service with new blue-painted buses on Columbia Pike's current 16F and 16Y routes and the 28X route on Leesburg Pike.

Metro estimates that about a third of all its bus customers will benefit from more frequent service, additional capacity or expanded hours on the routes being changed.

But some riders will notice less service. The agency is cutting a stop at the Tysons-Westpark Transit Station on the 5A that runs from L'Enfant Plaza to Washington Dulles International Airport, for example.

Hamre said Metro is looking to adjust schedules to improve on-time performance and reduce crowding. For years, the system has averaged only about three of every four buses arriving on time. It's also a question of prioritizing resources on packed routes instead of low-ridership ones.

Metro is planning to host public hearings in late October on additional changes it wants to make to bus service starting in March. The agency said the plan will involve improvements but also some cuts to existing service, which is why there will be public hearings. But the actual changes take months to implement once riders have had a chance to weigh in, due to scheduling operators and buses to meet the new timetables.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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