Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the FAQ below for background and tips on using Next Bus. If you have additional questions, please contact Metro's customer service.

About Next Bus Predictions

Using This Site

What do the Next Bus screen messages mean?

Privacy Policy

What is Next Bus?

Next Bus uses satellite technology to identify the specific location of a bus then sends estimated arrival times at a particular stop to the customer via a smartphone device. Metro's Web site and electronic signs at select bus stops.

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How does Next Bus work?

Next Bus uses Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology and advanced computer modeling to track buses on their routes. Next Bus predicts bus arrivals with a high degree of accuracy. Estimates are updated every 30 seconds as vehicles are tracked.

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How accurate are the predictions?

Next Bus technology tracks buses on their routes every 30 seconds. We take into account the actual position of the transit vehicles, their intended stops, historical scheduling data and typical traffic patterns. Next Bus cannot specify a precise overall accuracy especially if buses aren’t logged on. In general, the margin of error is less than one minute for predictions of five minutes away or less. For ten-minute predictions, the margin of error is less than two minutes. Predictions are biased slightly early to avoid people missing buses.

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What are the benefits of the system?

Next Bus system puts the customer in control. When you know what the schedule is, there are a number of reasons why vehicles may not arrive as expected. Heavy traffic causing delays, mechanical malfunctions, detours, and other unforeseen problems can interrupt service. By using Next Bus to determine when the next vehicle is arriving, you minimize time spent waiting for a bus. Specifically, you can determine when to leave home or the office, in a timely fashion, in order to meet the bus.

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Are there fees for using Next Bus?

Metro charges no fees for using Next Bus. But you may be assessed data or air-time charges from your cell phone or Internet provider if you exceed your monthly limits.

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Why are there Next Bus signs posted at bus stops?

Metro has been posting Next Bus signs or decals at Metrobus stops and bus shelters throughout the region. The round red, white, and blue Next Bus sign posted at a Metrobus stop includes a unique, identifying bus stop number and the phone number to call to get real-time bus arrival information for that bus stop. Signs are posted at all Metrobus stops in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

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How do you use the service?

Look for the bus stop number on the Next Bus sign located at the Metrobus stop or get it from wmata.com. Call 202-637-7000. Listen for the prompt and say "Next Bus" when prompted. Enter your bus stop number and bus route number when prompted. You will hear the estimated arrival time of the next bus at your stop.

You may also visit wmata.com and click on the link to the Next Bus page, enter the bus stop ID number or select your bus route from the drop-down menu. Choose the direction you are traveling and select your bus stop from the list. Next Bus will provide the estimated arrival time of the next bus at your stop. Please note that actual arrival times may be affected by changes in weather or traffic conditions. You also can get the bus arrival times on other wireless devices.

If you are using a bus stop with an electronic next bus sign, the information on the next bus arrival will be posted for you to see. Visit the reading bus signs page.

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How many Metrobus stops are there?

There are 11,083 Metrobus stops.

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How many Metrobus routes and lines are there?

As of October 21, 2015, there are 175 Metrobus lines, 299 Metrobus routes on 175 Metrobus lines, 2,554 bus shelters throughout the region and 1,525 buses to service passengers.

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What could happen to cause a prediction to be wrong?

Unexpected and expected detours, accidents, traffic slowdowns and severe weather can cause predictions to be less accurate. Broken bus equipment also can cause predictions to not be available for that bus.

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How many locations have the electronic signs and where are the locations?

There are 170 electronic signs that will show bus arrival times. The electronic signs are located the following priority corridors throughout the region:

  • 16th Street
  • Georgia Avenue
  • H Street
  • Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Wisconsin Avenue
  • Addison Road
  • Viers Mill Road
  • University Boulevard
  • Pentagon Transit Center

The signs are accompanied by ADA-compliant audio that will announce arrival times for the visually-impaired at the locations.

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What will happen on holidays?

Depending upon the holiday, Metrobus will run a Saturday, Sunday or weekday schedule. Predicted bus arrival times will be affected by the unusual traffic patterns and other factors unique to a holiday. The predicted arrival times will not be as accurate on detoured routes during special events, such as the Fourth of July. See the complete holiday schedule list.

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Can I bookmark my bus stop?

Yes, you can bookmark the arrival predictions page for the bus stops you use. This will save you having to select your route and stop each time you use Next Bus. Bookmarking only works, however, if your browser is set to accept cookies.

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Why do I have to specify the "From Stop" and "To Stop"?

Sometimes there are multiple routes that go to where you want to go. The Next Bus system can provide predictions for all possible routes that serve your stops, as long as you specify both the stop where you are boarding ("From Stop") and your destination stop ("To Stop"). Also, there are some routes that have multiple destinations. If your destination is only served by some of the vehicles for your route, selecting your destination ensures that you will only see predictions for vehicles going to your destination. If only one route serves the stop where you board, specifying "To Stop" is unnecessary.

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Does the site offer access for the visually impaired?

Yes, the accessible version has an especially streamlined interface optimized for accessibility and performance for visually impaired customers and mobile-device users.

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Where do I find schedules?

A link to schedules is provided when possible. They are available on both the stop selector page and on the real-time predictions page.

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Where do I find maps showing where the vehicles are?

When maps are available for a route, they can be found on the real-time predictions page next to the predictions with an icon labeled "Show Map". They can also be found on the wmata.com Next Bus Arrival page at the top right corner labeled "Live Map".

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Is my privacy protected?

Next Bus does not track your identity. The system only keeps track of the last stop selected on your computer. If you choose, you can even eliminate this record by turning off the cookies for your browser. You will still be able to obtain predictions.

For cell phone, PDA, and SMS sites Next Bus will only use any collected information for providing passenger information to you. Next Bus will NOT use this information for any other purpose nor sell or distribute this information to any other organization.

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