39,000 People Can’t Be Wrong: Metrobus Sucks

Hedda and I went to the Cubs game today, where they were soundly spanked by the Nationals. I’m unhappy with the loss, but not devastated - the Cubs won the previous two, and there’s another game tomorrow we’ll be attending. The last couple of days, however, have really soured my attitude towards DC’s wayward transit son: Metrobus.

Shortly after the final out, RFK Stadium belched forth almost 40,000 people onto the streets of Northeast Washington, flooding the streets in a river of people flowing towards their automobiles and public transportation like so many currents and eddies. The flow crushed the Metrorail system, causing huge backups and lines to advance down the escalators and crowd onto the waiting trains. Hedda and I, as we are not fond of being crushed, have been waiting for the D6 bus, which snakes through Northeast DC and downtown before eventually ending up at the corner of 13th and K, eventually heading through Dupont and Georgetown. To be blunt, it’s one of the easiest, most convenient ways to get from RFK back home for anybody living in the southern-ish yuppy-ville Northwest neighborhoods.

That is, if it ever shows up. Monday night, we waited for half an hour, before discovering the bus we were on was actually the bus after the bus we thought, and waiting for another half an hour before departing. The earlier bus just never showed up. Tuesday night we got lucky and happened to walk up right as the bus arrived. Again tonight, though, we waited for the bus with a hundred other people for almost half an hour.

Why doesn’t Metro have buses lined up waiting outside the stadium when the game ends? Why doesn’t Metro have special express shuttle buses ferrying fans to popular destinations, like Union Station, Dupont, and Georgetown? Why the hell do the buses to and from RFK run on regular four-o’clock-on-an-average-afternoon schedules on a Fourth-of-July baseball game against a popular team that they know is going to attract almost 40,000 people?!

It’s not like there’s no demand. Whenever the bus is there, people swarm onto it, filling it to capacity. Inevitably, riders are turned away. People want to ride the D6!

And it’s not like it caught them by surprise. Baseball games are scheduled well in advance - we’re talking years ahead of time here - and Major League Baseball knows which games are going to be big, since they were able to charge us extra for the “premium” game today.

If transit is going to be taken seriously, and it should be - must be - as the price of gasoline creeps ever higher, then Metro needs to get their act together. Start with the easy things. Baby steps are all I’m asking for. This should be a no-brainer. Make it happen.