Enhanced Bus Service Prioritized in DDOT’s 16th Street NW Action Plan

A southbound S4 Metrobus, headed to Federal Square, leaves a bus stop near the intersection of 16th Street and U Street NW.

A southbound S4 Metrobus departs from a bus stop near the intersection of 16th Street and U Street NW.

This past winter and spring, we heard a lot about the challenges faced by bus riders on 16th Street NW. 16th Street NW was part of an original network of bus lanes in the District, and currently carries around 21,000 riders every weekday. The buses actually carry more people than cars do during peak hours.

In 2011, DDOT received a petition from residents requesting the installation of a bus-only lane along the 16th Street NW corridor, from H Street to Eastern Avenue. DDOT agreed to undertake such a study and the 16th Street NW Safety and Mobility report was completed in 2013. One of the main goals of this study was to determine whether the corridor could support a bus-only lane. The report’s final analysis showed that a dedicated bus lane between H Street and Arkansas Avenue would lead to measurable gains in bus efficiency and travel time during peak times, but also noted some of the challenges that could come up if bus lanes were implemented.

Since the release of the report, DDOT has continued to receive petitions from residents and various Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) in support of a dedicated bus lane on the corridor, and we’ve taken note.

  • DDOT’s draft moveDC plan has identified 16th Street NW as a transit priority corridor. Our draft moveDC report designates 16th Street NW as one of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) 24 Bus Priority Corridors in the metropolitan region. These 24 corridors carry over half of all of the bus riders in the region.
  • DDOT is committed to improving bus service on the 16thStreet NW corridor and we have developed an action plan that will continue to improve service in the corridor. In the past five years, the addition of the S9 limited stop service and more service in the southern part of the corridor has increased  ridership by around 5,000 riders a day, and yet there are still problems: buses bunch, get stuck in traffic and passengers have a hard time onboarding and off-boarding.
The section of 16th Street NW that DDOT is studying for transit improvements.

The section of 16th Street NW that DDOT is studying for transit improvements.

Quick Signal Optimization (July 2014): DDOT recently completed a focused signal optimization timing plan for the 44 signals along 16th Street NW between H Street and Portal Drive. The preliminary assessments show that this  led to travel-time savings, and DDOT will continue to evaluate the results over the next 6-8 weeks.

Additional Articulated Buses (August 2014): Later this month, WMATA will add additional articulated buses to the corridor. These longer buses will add more bus capacity on the corridor and will hopefully help get people on and off buses in a more efficient manner.

Potential “Enhanced Rush Hours” (Fall 2014): DDOT is exploring the possibility of extending rush hours along 16th Street NW by up to an hour in each direction. These would enable buses at the tail ends of the morning and evening rush hours to make up some time and improve operational efficiency.

Transit Signal Priority (TSP) and Full-Scale Signal Optimization (mid-2015): DDOT is already working hard on a citywide signal-optimization project. The northern area of the city, including 16th Street NW, will get a full-blown network optimization in mid-2015. Around the same time, DDOT and WMATA will also optimize traffic signals along 16th Street NW and in some other major bus corridors so that buses can have a little extra “green time,” which will lead to less bus back-ups and quicker travel times.

Transit Priority Study (2015-2016): In 2015, DDOT plans to conduct a transit priority study that will examine various alternative approaches for improving transit along the 16th Street NW corridor, including examining the potential for bus lanes. The study—which will be conducted with public involvement—will take approximately one year to complete, and will identify specific long-term capital needs for improving transit service in the corridor.

Throughout all the phases of our 16th Street NW Action Plan, DDOT will be collecting data and evaluating performance of buses and the broader transportation network. As the District continues to grow, we think 16th Street NW can be a model for improving public transit and maximizing  our large roads so that they can efficiently move people and support healthy neighborhood life.


About DDOT Blogger

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) develops and maintains for the District of Columbia a cohesive sustainable transportation system that delivers safe, affordable, and convenient ways to move people and goods - while protecting and enhancing the natural, environmental and cultural resources of the District.
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