Sunday, December 02, 2012

Tell WMATA Not to Eliminate the D3 Bus

The following post was written by Jaime Fearer and originally appeared on the Trinidad Neighborhood Association website.

Recent news coverage has failed to point out that WMATA is proposing elimination of the D3 bus line as a part of its latest restructuring, and little time remains to voice your concerns about this proposal. The D3 currently provides a direct connection from Ivy City, through Trinidad, to downtown, Dupont Circle, and Georgetown. It provides a convenient way to access Metrorail’s Green and Yellow lines, by disembarking at 7th and E Streets NW.


Metro’s rationale for eliminating the D3 is “duplication with other routes” and “low productivity.” We haven’t found anything quantifying “productivity” on WMATA’s website, so we don’t quite know how it is defined. Perhaps one thing causing “low productivity” would be a low farebox recovery rate on the line. A number of riders in the neighborhood have noted that the fareboxes on the buses are not frequently working – it means a free ride, but that clearly hurts the system financially in the long run. Additionally, we’d guess those free rides aren’t counted in the overall ridership totals for the line.

Other bus routes certainly run through Trinidad, but nothing provides a direct connection from our neighborhood to the other side of the central business district in the morning. WMATA does not clearly state whether they will increase bus frequency on the other lines that run on Montello and Trinidad Avenues (D4 and D8) to make up for the lost capacity.

Speaking of the D4, it will be changing as well.


The D4 route, which currently runs between Ivy City and Franklin Square, will more than double in length when it’s extended north from Ivy City to the Fort Totten Metro Station. It will be taking over the easternmost part of the E2, E3, and E4 lines, which currently run from from Friendship Heights through Fort Totten to Ivy City.

Longer routes can lead to more opportunities for buses to fall off schedule, as well as “bunching,” which is when many buses on one route arrive at a stop at once. This can lead to very long waits between buses instead of the expected even spacing.

Metro originally announced a hearing for the changes happening in Northeast DC for October 30, but the impact of Hurricane Sandy meant that it was rescheduled to November 26.

A heading says “Routes seeing improvements in this bus service change proposal” on the page with the public hearing schedule, but the list does not mention the elimination of the D3. Certainly, one could argue that the elimination of a route is not an improvement, so WMATA was under no obligation to list the removal of the route on that list. We would argue the total elimination of a route is something that should be prominently noted, regardless of whether this is an “improvement” or not.

An additional problem is that we have seen no signs at the bus stops along the route alerting people to these changes. Certainly people who ride the D3 would be interested to know their bus is going away, and wouldn’t the best place to reach those people be on the bus itself?

There’s still time to let WMATA know what you think (though not much time). Written testimony can be emailed or faxed to WMATA, but you must do so by 9:00 am on Monday, December 3. From WMATA’s website:

Written statements and exhibits may be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, or e-mailed to Statements also may be faxed to 202-962-1133. Please reference the hearing number. [The hearing in NE DC was number 579, and the Docket number for all the proposed changes is B12-03.] 
[From what we understand, the date for submissions was changed due to the hurricane as well, though the original press release does not indicate that.]. Please note that any personal information such as name, e-mail address, address, or telephone number you provide in the statement may be releasable to the public under the WMATA Public Access to Records Policy, available at

Let WMATA know what you think about the changes to the D3, D4, or any other route that they plan to change in the new year.


pat said...

It strikes me the D3 and D4 should be re-routed so that they run down H street.

One of the smart things Arlington county did was condense a bunch of lines so they ran down Columbia Pike and then split off to neigborhoods.

It seems if the D3 and D4 were routed to run down H St and then head north to Ivy City or Ft Totten, you would get traffic off K Street, and onto H Street which would benefit from improved service.

Anonymous said...

Latest news on the trolley...

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I take this bus every day. At least when it comes. Service was already cut back last year so it will often not show up for an hour, thereby reducing ridership because I have to find someone to give me a ride or walk to the metro. The route is great the way it is, and the bus is always packed when it actually shows up. I got my comments submitted to WMATA with 20 minutes to spare. Thanks for posting the info!

Anonymous said...

I ride this bus every day, except of course when it just doesn't show up. I had no idea that it was potentially going to be eliminated. The suggestion that the D3 and D4 are duplicative seems spurious to me. I certainly couldn't ride the D4 without adding significantly to my commute time.

I would like to weigh in about the proposal, but would appreciate it if anyone has any advice about the type of messaging/argument that will be most effective. Are there any specified factors that WMATA must take into account when potentially eliminating a bus line?

D4 Rider said...

When I started taking the D4 to work instead of the X2 it was a life changer. The D4 in the morning between 7 and 9 is extremely reliable, arriving every 15 minutes at Montello and Florida. It is sometimes crowded but I get a seat 95% of the time, and it is also quieter/less crazy than the X2. The drivers tend to be friendlier too. I really hope Metro doesn't mess this up and I sent them a note saying so.

andrew said...

Huh? What other routes does this bus duplicate?

Apart from the Georgetown Circulator, there really just isn't any good crosstown route that doesn't end abruptly in the middle of the city. I always considered the D3 to be the H2's more-southern equivalent.

My only complaint with the D3 is that the route's a bit circuitous, and could run a bit more frequently. There's definitely a need for a crosstown K St bus line, and it makes sense for that line to branch off to serve Trinidad and Ivy City.

H St already has too many buses. It might make sense to move the D3/4 onto H at night (when frequent service is more important than traffic congestion), but I don't think you could cram many more buses down H.

Traveling east-to-west in DC is just so needlessly difficult (and likely the result of some not-so-great motives in the past). We shouldn't be deliberately making this situation even worse. If nothing else, the D3 is probably the closest thing we've currently got to the proposed crosstown streetcar line.

That all said, if you extended the X2 to run down K St to Georgetown (or the Circulator to run East of Union Station), I'd have a lot fewer complaints about all this.

wylie coyote said...

+1 on the need for a Circulator to run east of Union Station. They travel up Maryland Avenue to get to their depot, why not have an actual line on Maryland Avenue? Perhaps a line that goes up to the Arboreum and then back to Union Station? That would markedly increase Arboreum visits, I bet.

grr said...

in other news, spoiled and rotten is closing and moving to baltimore - , and CH MASSAGE has opened-

adl said...

Pat, d4 -- concur with both of you, great points.

pat said...


My Point is the D3 and D4 could improve by running on H street for as long as practical.

By Putting more service on H Street, H Street really grows, you pull traffic off of a residential street
and you really make crosstown traffic run better as the trolley begins to leverage this flow.

THe goal as I see it is to do on H St NE what the Arlington County Gov did on Columbia Pike.

By Consolidating all the 16(A-Y) to the pike, anyone could walk down and grab any bus in a direction and get further along.