D.C. to make bus lane pilot permanent in November

Sept. 23, 2019
The pilot tested the impact of high-visibility, bus-only lanes along H and I Streets, NW during peak rush hours.

A pilot project in Washington, D.C., to evaluate high-visibility, bus-only lanes along H and I Streets, NW has produced improved bus speeds and reliability. The project will be made permanent beginning Nov. 12 as officials at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) say adjustments will continue to be made to enhance the experiences of bus riders along the route.   

“Under Mayor [Muriel] Bowser’s leadership, we are committed to improving bus travel for residents and commuters across all eight wards,” said the DDOT Director Jeff Marootian. “The H/I bus lanes will make the commutes of thousands of bus passengers traveling through downtown faster and more reliable every day.”

H and I Street NW through downtown is one the D.C.’s busiest bus corridors, with up to 70 buses traveling per hour during the peak rush hours. The pilot project began June 3 and turned brightly painted lanes into bus-only lanes during the morning rush hour from 7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. and the evening rush hour from 4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Prior to the pilot project, DDOT said buses traveling in the corridor experienced very slow travel speeds, as slow as 2.8 mph in some sections. Approximately 40 percent of all bus riders in the district travel on some portion of the H and I Streets NW bus route.

Preliminary data comparing June 2018 and June 2019 found improvements in bus speeds and reliability on I Street NW but not on H Street NW. DDOT will implement the following changes to remedy operational challenges identified during the pilot period:

  • Extend bus lane hours to operate between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, to reduce confusion about when lanes are in effect.
  • Create loading zones on the opposite side of the street (south curb of I Street and north curb of H Street) to accommodate loading spaces that will be impacted by the bus lanes.
  • Change signal sequencing and operations to accommodate the heavy volume of right turning vehicles in the corridor that can create bottlenecks for buses.
  • Move bus layover spaces outside the bus lane corridor to accommodate critical bus operations needs at non-conflicting locations.

DDOT also issued Notices of Intent (NOIs) to create new loading spaces along the south curb of I Street NW and along the north curb of H Street NW and to create new bus layover spaces on 13th Street NW. Written comments must be filed by Monday, Nov. 4, with DDOT’s Transportation Operations Administration. For information about the NOI’s status, please visit ddot.dc.gov/service/ddot-notice-intent.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.