As was announced a while back, WMATA is currently conducting a study on the D Series bus lines. For Georgetowners that most likely means the D1, D2, D3, D5, and D6. We’ve seen similar studies like this before. Just a few years ago, a study like this turned into the new “improved” 30 Series bus lines. Many Georgetowners now know that we got the short end of the stick with those changes. Therefore, Georgetown users of the D Series should be all the more engaged with WMATA during the study to ensure no more “improvement” service cuts.
How did Georgetown get the short end of the stick with the 30 Series and what that might mean for the D Series, after the jump:
Going all the way back the the streetcar days, a 30 series line has stretched all the way from Friendship Heights to the Anacostia River, and beyond. Prior to the changes, it was the most traveled busline by far with over 20,000 passengers per day. While it was slow, it had an incredibly short headway of only 3-6 minutes (meaning there is only 3-6 minutes between buses). From a Georgetown perspective, the 30 Series offered a very frequently non-transfer ride straight through downtown or up to Cathedral Heights, Tenleytown or Friendship Heights. It wasn’t the fastest way around town, but it was reliable and required little wait-time at the stop.
Prior to the changes, there were five 30 Series bus lines that traveled through Georgetown via Wisconsin Ave. and M St.: the 30, 32, 34, 35, and 36. That meant that a Georgetown resident could catch any 30 Series bus and know it would take you downtown (or vice-versa) and they came often, even during off-peak times.
After the changes only three lines go through Georgetown: the 31, 32, and 36. Moreover, the 31 bus only goes to Foggy Bottom. The crosstown route now only comes every five minutes during peak and only every fifteen minutes during off-peak. That’s a significant cut in service, particularly for the off-peak hours which is when a lot of Georgetown’s senior citizens use the 30 Series to get around. Who benefited from the changes most? Probably upper Wisconsin Avenue residents who can speed around Georgetown in the 37 bus.
What’s That Mean to the D Series
Like the 30 Series, the D Series has several long and popular lines, particularly the D6. The consultants hired by WMATA are probably considering many of the same issues that arose in the 30 Series study. Namely, should they cut the long lines in half? Should they introduce express service that skips congested areas? Looking at the changes made to the 30 Series, here’s what GM thinks we might expect:
D1 & D2:
These lines go from Glover Park down through Georgetown and to Dupont. The D2 stops in front of the Q St. Metro stop entrance and then circles back to Georgetown and Glover Park. The D1 continues down to K St. and beyond to Union Station.
Prediction: The 30 Series study favored neighborhood circulation like the D2 offers. As a result, expect few changes to the D2. However, there’s a chance that they’ll cut the D1 service in favor of pushing more Glover Park residents to take the D2 to the Dupont metro figuring that the Red Line goes to most of the places that the D1 goes to.
Additionally, GM read somewhere that WMATA would be interested in putting more buslines on the same street. This could mean putting the D1 and D6 on the same street as the G2 through the East Village. So either the G2 would start going down Q St. or the D2 and D1 would go down P St. and Dumbarton. Either way, it would mean a lot more buses down one of the streets, which means a lot of angry residents on that street.
D3 & D6:
These are the lines most like the 30 Series. They go from Sibley Hospital all the way across town (RFK for the D6 and Ivy City for the D3). The D6 runs all the time, while the D3 is more of a rush hour service. Would WMATA consider splitting these lines in two? At a public meeting held for the study a few months ago which GM attended, the consultants stated that passengers that start their rides on the east side of town were more likely the ride the bus all the way to the west whereas passengers starting their rides on the west side were more likely to ride it shorter distances. In other words, residents of neighborhoods on the east side of the lines rely on the bus to get them all the way to the west side of town whereas residents of western neighborhoods (including Georgetown) only ride the bus a short distance (e.g. Georgetown to Dupont, or Georgetown to Farragut).
Prediction: For the reasons above, WMATA is unlikely to simply cut the lines in half. However, if the consultants hear a lot of grief from Pallisades residents who rely on the D3 and D6 to get downtown, they may suggest changes to these lines to speed some buses through Georgetown. This may mean sending some buses through lower Georgetown to the Whitehurst or other options (particularly if they start pushing upper Georgetown residents to ride the D2 more). Like the 30 Series, this would result in fewer non-transfer rides from Georgetown to downtown.
The D5 is a limited service line that provides downtown service to the Pallisades via M St.
Prediction: Pallisades residents want more of this service. Since buying more buses is probably not in the cards, somehow merging or otherwise coordinating the D6 with the D5 would probably be the answer. Perhaps they’ll simply change some D6′s into D5′s. This would hurt upper Georgetown residents, many of which ride the D6 to get to Farragut area.
There are a million permutations, but it’s safe to say that what happened to the 30 Series is likely to happen to the D Series. GM invites you to visit the study’s website and submit your comments and inform the study that Georgetown needs to keep downtown service. Another series of meetings will begin soon, GM will let you know when they’re scheduled.