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DC’s Bus-Only Lane Passes Test, Expanding to Saturday

6:58 PM EDT on September 20, 2019

Weekday dedicated bus lanes being tested in Washington, D.C. will become permanent — and expand to Saturday — starting on Nov. 12, the District Department of Transportation announced on Friday.

The Nation's Capital has been experimenting with about 1.3 miles of bus lanes on H and I streets NW roughly between New York and Pennsylvania avenues NW since June, devoting a red-painted curbside lane to buses during the morning and evening rush between 7 and 9:30 am and 4 and 6:30 pm. While in operation, up to 70 buses per hour on stretches where buses used to crawl at less than 3 mph.

The route of the now-permanent Downtown DC bus-only lanes — which will even be in effect on Saturdays. Image: District Department of Transportation
The route of the now-permanent Downtown DC bus-only lanes — which will even be in effect on Saturdays. Image: District Department of Transportation

Now, it will expand the hours the lane is used to 7 am to 7 pm from Monday through Saturday. During those times, the only vehicles allowed in the lanes will be city, charter, and school buses, marked taxis, and bicycles. Vehicles making right turns will also be allowed inside — a fact that didn’t seem to slow down test buses using the service. 

“The H/I bus lanes will make the commutes of thousands of bus passengers traveling through downtown faster and more reliable every day,” said the District Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian. 

Along with the lanes, the city will create loading zones on the opposite side of the streets to accommodate deliveries; change the sequencing of right-turn signals to help move traffic; and create new layover space outside the lanes to help speed buses along.

The City on a Hill is also looking into using cameras to ticket drivers and parkers in the lanes illegally. The fines for blocking or driving in the lane could be as much as $200, according to the Washington Post.

A Post poll revealed more than half of Washington area residents approved of the bus-only lanes during rush hours, with 71 percent of public transportation users supporting the lanes.

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