In 2019, the Bus Transformation Project (BTP) Strategy and Action Plan were released, with 26 recommendations to create a more cohesive, frequent and reliable system that works for riders. Those 26 recommendations were the result of two years of expansive public engagement and outreach and discussions between the BTP Executive Steering Committee, WMATA Leadership Team, local transit agencies, the project Technical Team, and the Strategy Advisory Panel. While the COVID pandemic forced public transit agencies to pivot their focus to near-term priorities of safety and service provision, the pandemic also showed just how essential bus service is for community resilience. Bus operators kept our region open by providing transportation access for residents throughout the pandemic and were especially critical for low income and essential workers.
The MetroNow Coalition produced the Bus Transformation Project Progress Report to measure progress against the BTP strategy’s twenty-six recommendations, but, more importantly, to call the region to action. By prioritizing better bus service we can improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who use the bus today and create a regionally coordinated bus network that can grow ridership long-term.
Transforming bus service will require sustained political will as well as adequate operational and capital funding. Prioritizing buses on roadways and enforcing those dedicated bus lanes makes buses faster and more reliable but can face opposition from those who are comfortable with the status quo. Converting to electric bus fleets and building accessible bus stops will cost money today but can save money down the line. Our region’s leaders need to hear from their constituents that they should stand up for buses and bus riders, granting the bus the same political importance as Metrorail, or even more. Bus service is essential to hundreds of thousands of residents around the region and relied on most heavily by low-income residents. It is time we recognize the essential role that bus plays in our transportation system.
The MetroNow Coalition thanks you for taking the time to read this report, and we hope you will add your voice to the growing chorus of residents and stakeholders saying, “Now is the time for better transit!” by becoming a Bus Champion today.