London's bus campaign for Washington

Bus-loving people will have already seen the London ‘My other car is a bus — new advertising campaign — I only wish I could get one of the bumper stickers!

That said: Washington’s buses could use some more practical help, especially with the capacity of the Metrorail system being stretched towards breaking.

We all know that rail is “sexier” than bus, but that’s were the room for growth is — affordable growth anyway — and buses are more convenient and practical for a large segment of the populus than the rails anyway. (Neither home nor work is less than a twenty-minute walk from a rail station, but there’s a bus that goes very close from one to the other. I would have to drive if it wasn’t for the bus.) Time to treat them with some respect.

We could be more like London: encourage pride in our strikingly extensive and relatively modern system and provide more information for potential users. WMATA buses are quite difficult to use if you don’t already use them. It took far too long to get free system maps printed (and as it is, you have to ask for them at subway stations). The experimental downtown route direction maps were printed too fine, without adequate direction, and are already outdated. Weekly bus passes are sold at too few many shops. Bus stops are inadequately marked. There are several problems, and they are all resolvable.

A good starting palce would be to adopt London-style “spider maps.” These combine realistic local neighborhood maps (centering on a rail station) with stylized radiating bus routes. The format is based on the famous London Underground map. Hubby and I found the concept invaluable in our visit last year, and once implemented the bare details can be printed at the individual stops — far more helpful than the truth-bending minute-by-minute, long-distance-train-style schedules currently posted.

Since a picture is worth more than my feeble description, here’s a link to get some spider maps to review.

Spider maps by borough