Rapid Bus Service Starts on Georgia Avenue

Metro ExtraToday marks the end of the second week of service of WMATA’s new Metro Extra line on Georgia Avenue. To my knowledge the project is the second Bus Rapid Transit line developed in the region, and the first express bus to operate almost exclusively inside the District.

The service, officially Metro Extra Route 79, currently operates every ten minutes from 6-9:30 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m. along 7th Street and Georgia Avenue, with stops at the Navy Memorial, Chinatown, Shaw, Petworth, Walter Reed, and Silver Spring, among others. When Dr. Gridlock took a ride on the bus recently he found it running smoothly, with the exception of a few confused riders. Over the next year new bus shelters, sidewalk bulb-outs, and technology to speed buses through intersections will be tested and installed. The service may also be eventually be extended to provide all-day service.

Metro Extra MapAlthough the branding for the route is less than ideal (extra what?), the marketing has been more creative than I’ve seen for any other WMATA bus service. I even received a pamphlet in the mail in Spanish and English clearly explaining the route, and containing coupons to use at the AFI Silver Theater and Borders Books (both located near route stops), and two coupons to ride the bus free during its first week of operation. With Arlington County, WMATA developed the successful PikeRide to provide service on Columbia Pike in Virginia. However, other suburban express routes could be improved by clearer marketing and route information.

The service, a joint project between WMATA and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) shows that DDOT continues to be much more dedicated to enhancing transportation in the District, having also launched the successful DC Circulator service, which recently expanded to take over the Georgetown Blue Bus route on Wisconsin Avenue.

The project is a rare bright spot for WMATA’s bus system, where little major changes have been made since a 2005 evaluation in which experts reported the system was providing erratic service on aging buses along routes that have changed little since 1973. High hopes are riding on WMATA’s much-discussed new General Manager, John Catoe, Jr., who successfully led the overhaul of bus service in the sprawling Los Angeles system.

> WMATA Metro Extra Information
> Metro Extra Project Development Website
> W. Post: “Georgia Avenue to Get Express Bus Route“, Get There Blog: “New Metrobus Rolls Out
> W. Post, 12/27/05: “Progress Has Passed Metrobus By
> DCist, 11/17/06: “New Guy on the Bus” (Catoe profile)

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. After much delay, the limited-stop route 79 has begun and much to my delight, it is smashingly successful. This hassle free alternative to the ever popular 70/71 route save close to 15 minutes on a trip in downtown. The transition has gone over quite well with the regulars. I have yet to experience any difficulties with passengers boarding the wrong bus. I’ve heard that a similar service is being planned for the 30 route along Pennsylvania Ave and M Street in Georgetown. Metro has attepted unsuccessfully to schedule the 30 bus line so that the bus aren’t grouped together in threes, fours and fives. The plan was to create bus only lanes through downtown and Georgetown. Georgetown is a virtual parking lot during the evening rush. And there is a plan by some evil carpetbaggers to close and dismantle the Whitehurst Freeway because it disrupts the scenic riverfront. Back to the drawing board for metro.

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