Get on the Bus

This morning in the office I discovered that several co-workers have opted to switch to Metrobus rather than Metrorail due to the recent fare increase. Though it wasn’t remotely a scientific poll, not only was it directly discussed in coffee break conversations but also randomly overheard in the hallways. For the most part, these were my twentysomething colleagues for whom the increase really does add up.

What struck me most was the surprise in their voices about their new experiences, that riding the bus could actually be comfortable and convenient. Now, I’ve been riding the 66/68 for the past seven years, and I’ve seen the demographic change dramatically. The bus is far more diverse now in the past two years, in both age and race, than it was in the first five years I rode it. But for most of that time, I was consistently struck by how many people were surprised, even shocked, when I said I rode the bus. I really had no idea that many people consider it a bad thing to do – and that they considered it not just dangerous bad, but class bad.

So, what’s the word? Are you a bus-hater? Do you think it says something negative about your socio-economic status to ride? Or are you positive? Are you changing your transportation habits from rail to bus because of the increase? From car to bus because of the environment? I’m curious…

9 Comments so far

  1. ajw_93 (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

    I love the bus! I miss the bus, having switched from an all-bus to a bus-Metro combo since changing jobs this summer. The new job is right across the street from a Metro station, and a 10 to 15 minute walk from the bus that would take me in the right direction.

    Folks on my bus routes are far more courteous to their fellow riders, even when the bus is packed, than I’ve ever seen train riders behave. Perhaps the fare increase is just the excuse I’ve needed to suck it up, walk a few minutes, and switch back to the all-bus commute (with Metro as a backup in the event of extreme weather).

  2. Tiff (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

    My personal bus-resistance has more to do with locations of stops and the fact that the bus has to sit in the same traffic as everyone else (except on highways with HOV lanes, of course), making it significantly less appealing to me than Metrorail. that said, when I’ve taken Metrobus, at least during regular commuter hours, I’ve found them to be perfectly comfortable and convenient… I just wouldn’t want to rely on them all the time.

  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

    I’ve done the bus thing more than once. I use to catch the Alexandria Busses to King St and Van Dorn St., then train into the city, or now from our place, take the 7 to Pentagon and metro in.

    It’s not bad for commuting, but for just random trips into DC? It sucks. 30 min wait for the bus, an hour if you time it wrong. Then trains, then, etc. Might as well drive.

  4. Jenn L (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

    It seemed most of the people were DC city dwellers who had never previously taken the bus as a means to get around the city proper. I don’t mean urban to suburban trips, but internal trips. I personally wouldn’t bother with the bus to get to VA or MD. But these are folks who live in the city and never hopped on a bus before. The bite to their bottom line was what pushed them over their prejudice. That I found interesting.

  5. shelley (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    Really depends on what bus you ride. I rode the N line for a few years and found it to be a relatively pleasant experience (at least by public transit standards). A couple years ago I moved to the H ST NE corridor and now ride the x2 bus, which is perpetually behind schedule, obscenely overcrowded and seems to always attract a significant clientele of unruly teenagers and harassing drunks.

  6. Beth (unregistered) on January 9th, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

    I’ve commuted via bus (in DC, Chicago and NYC) and though it definately has ups and downs, I’m a fan. The main down is inner-city traffic (especially when a metro/subway is available). What I do miss from both Chicago and NYC are farecards that work on both bus and train and track transfers between the two modes, even for single rides. It definately encouraged users to use both bus and metro.

  7. deborah (unregistered) on January 17th, 2008 @ 8:26 am

    If there youg its a question of getting up earlier. The other is all americans dive they fill and a sense of adulthood in that process. Iam in my mid 45s and I have never driven

  8. Wayan (unregistered) on January 17th, 2008 @ 10:39 am

    I miss the bus. I love the sights of the city, the ability to bail anywhere, and the convenience. Hell, I even love the short bus that roams Petworth

  9. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on January 17th, 2008 @ 11:29 am

    Wayan’s riding the Short Bus? O RLY…

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