Comeback Time for DC’s Forgotten Bus Lane Network?

Washington D.C. used to have 60 miles of dedicated bus lanes. Lines shown in red show 1976 bus lanes. Image: Beyond DC via Metro

Washington’s 1976 dedicated bus lane network is in red. Additional transit lanes planned in the 1970s are shown in blue and grey. Image: Beyond DC via Metro

It’s barely even remembered today, but in the 1970s Washington, DC, had a substantial network of dedicated bus lanes, with plans to expand. Dan Malouff at Beyond DC explains what was lost, and how priority for transit could come back to the city’s streets:

Prior to 1976 the DC region had at least 60 miles of bus-only lanes, with even more proposed. This map shows where they were. On the map, the red lines show existing bus lanes as of 1976. Blue and black lines show proposals that never materialized. The network reached throughout DC, Northern Virginia, and into Maryland.

Unfortunately, all the bus lanes were converted to other purposes after the Metrorail system was built.

It’s no coincidence or surprise that some of the old bus lanes were on the same streets where they’re now proposed again, like 16th Street and H and I Streets downtown. Those are natural transit corridors, with great need for quality service.

Will we ever get this system back? The region is off to a good start, with moveDC’s 25 miles of proposed transit lanes, and the upcoming Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway. But the 60-mile system from the 1970s shows we still have a lot of work to do.

Elsewhere on the Network today: BicycleLaw says Michigan may require driver’s ed students to learn about bicycle laws. ATL Urbanist tries to make sense of two studies that come to seemingly opposite conclusions about sprawl in Atlanta. And PubliCola wonders whether it’s time to pull the plug on Bertha, the deep-bore tunnel digging machine, and stop Seattle’s disastrous experiment with a buried highway.