The new buses suck

You’ve probably seen the fancy new buses the city is using for some of the cooler routes – the new S9 express bus on 16th Street, for example. I was all excited to ride one. They look fancy and clean and new and quiet. I got my chance today. The regular S2 was a new bus this morning, so I gleefully hopped on. Wow, do the new buses suck. Not only is it clear that the person who designed the bus has never ridden a bus before, but I’m pretty sure they actually defy various laws of physics. I don’t think these buses are very different in length, width, or height from the older buses, but they’ve somehow managed to drastically reduce the amount of usable space. Both styles of bus are basically rectangular prisms – volume equals length times width times height. So if the length, width, and height are approximately the same, the volume is approximately the same. I’m not sure where the volume went on the new buses. Perhaps they’ve somehow raised it up – there seems to be enough head room for an entire basketball team, but they better be built like Kevin Garnett, not Lebron. And don’t get me started on the painted yellow floor by the back door. It actually tells you not to stand on it. Are they insane? I mean, sure, it would be nice if no one stood there – most bus crowding problems are due to inconsiderate and clueless people who stand by the door and block everyone else from moving to the back of the bus. But who is going to obey the painted floor? The bus driver will yell at you if you leave that much space open during crowded commuting time. The other people on the bus will yell at you because they’re packed in like sardines while you leave that space open. You do have to leave some space, though, because the idiotic back doors open in. I’m going to go email WMATA right now and complain. I suggest you do the same.

Please stop bunching the 16th Street bus, WMATA

I just missed the bus this morning. As usual, I was waiting for the interminable light to cross 16th at Harvard NW when the bus went by. Then another, and another. Three buses, bumper to bumper, and all gone by the time the light changed. So I waited. Not too long, six or seven minutes, but then three more came. From Harvard to Euclid there were 12 people on my bus, then 11 until we got to M. After I got off at H, I think there might have been one person left. No one got on while I was riding. There was another bus right in front of us that picked up all the passengers. And I got on the bus at about 7:20AM, not peak rush hour, but plenty of people are on their way to work at that time. It’s frustrating that, had the buses been spaced out just a little bit, I would have gotten one of the first bunch that went through. And WMATA would have saved some cash. Eleven fares probably don’t even cover costs on the bus.

I have ridden the 43, and it was good

A little while ago, I found out about the new 43 bus that goes underneath Dupont Circle instead of through. Today, I rode it for the first time. I almost didn’t – my usual S2 came by as I was waiting to cross I Street. I didn’t rush because I didn’t think I would make it, but then the light changed, and I still didn’t rush, and then three people made the driver open the door before the light turned green. So I would have made it with even the slightest bit of extra effort. But no matter. The 43 bus came by just a minute later. I’ve been wanting to try it, but unwilling to forgo the S2/S4. It was wonderful. But I fear it won’t last long. I got on at 3:30PM on a Monday, early rush hour, but already busy on the S2/S4. There were maybe 15 people on the bus between 15th and I and 16th and Columbia. Maybe this is normal for the route, but I can’t imagine WMATA is happy with those numbers. I did run into a problem with the stop request strings and buttons – none of them worked. I thought perhaps standing by the back door would work, or maybe that the requests were being relayed to the driver but not displayed on the big screen. But I was wrong. Luckily, a kid who wanted the stop after the one I wanted pulled on every string in the bus until one of them worked, and the bus stopped just one stop later than I wanted, and I didn’t even have to go up and ask the driver. I will definitely ride the 43 again. I won’t pass up an S2/S4, but if the 43 comes first, it’s a great alternative.