About the Project
Buses keep our region moving, providing more than 500,000 trips each day. Better Bus is an initiative to rethink, redesign, and revitalize bus service to better serve the needs of customers in the region. Through the Network Redesign, we're taking a fresh and detailed look at our bus service and routes to serve you better.
The Network Redesign effort will consider where, when, and how people travel in the region and result in a new network that better serves our communities, including the needs of essential workers. This process also will coordinate service with bus priority investments-like bus lanes and transit signal priority-across the region.
Watch this video to learn the A-B-C's of a bus network redesign and watch us unravel the mystery of creating a better bus for the DMV.
The Need for a Better Bus Network
This project is the first comprehensive redesign of the entire Metrobus network since its creation 50 years ago in 1973. As part of the effort, Metro also will support partner agencies in Prince George's County (TheBus) and the City of Fairfax (CUE) in redesigning their local bus networks. It's an opportunity to achieve the following:
Keep up with our changing region and the people that live and work here. Our region adds approximately 3,000 people and 2,200 jobs, every month. Bus service needs to better align with changes to where and when people want to travel. Better Bus also will consider ways to align bus service with bus priority investments such as bus lanes and transit signal priority.
Better connect people to where they need to go. About half of our region lacks access to frequent transit service. Buses keep our region moving, but more and more often are getting stuck in traffic, making service slower and less reliable. Speeding up bus trips will help make it easier and faster for customers to get around the region.
Promote equity, inclusiveness, and access to opportunity. Half of Metrobus customers are low income, 1 and 84 percent are people of color. The redesign effort is an opportunity to create a more equitable transit network that serves our communities, including the needs of essential workers.
Create a network that is easy to use no matter where you are. In the Washington region, Metro operates about 200 Metrobus routes, while seven other transit providers operate another 250 bus routes. While that means lots of ways to get around, the overall system can be difficult to understand.
1 $30,000 annually or less
Getting to Better
The Network Redesign puts customers at the forefront. We are using data-driven analysis and a robust, interactive public engagement process to evaluate and make changes to Metrobus service. Throughout the process, we want to hear from customers and communities across the region.
We've broken up the project into three phases to ensure we are collaborating with customers and the community at key milestones of the process.
Phase 1 - Gather & Analyze Data and Set Goals & Priorities
We began in fall 2022 by setting goals and priorities for the new network. Your input combined with data about where, when, and how people use the bus today was used to help shape the draft Visionary Network in Phase 2. During this phase, we also created the technical and policy foundations needed for this project, including the following:
Market Assessment: Determined how well current bus service meets community needs and identified what customer trips could best be served by a redesigned transit network. We looked at travel patterns and demographic data that highlighted:
- Areas with high likelihood to need and use transit
- Gaps with low transit access to key destinations
- Factors contributing to lower transit usage
Transit Service Assessment: Looked at how bus services operate today and identified specific opportunities for improvement by using data from existing and pre-COVID conditions to see how each route is performing in terms of ridership, reliability, cost-effectiveness, serving low-income customers and customers of color, and other metrics.
Development of Goals, Objectives, Metrics: After reviewing existing policies and previous plans, like the Bus Transformation Project and #YourMetro, The Way Forward, and incorporating priorities identified from customers, the community, and stakeholders through our engagement, we developed goals, objectives and metrics that will guide development of the new bus network.
Watch this video to learn three interesting tidbits we found from our analysis.
Phase 2 - Develop the Visionary Network
In spring 2023, a draft Visionary Network was presented for public and stakeholder feedback. The Visionary Network included changes to where routes can go, how often the bus arrives, and the times of day and week the bus operates. This network was created using public, stakeholder, and bus operator input; data and ridership analysis; and a travel demand assessment.
The Visionary Network was designed to provide convenient, easy-to-use, reliable bus service that matches when and where people want to travel and increases access to opportunity for historically disenfranchised residents and communities. Feedback collected on this network is being used to develop an updated Visionary Network in Phase 3.
Phase 3 - Draft Year One and Revised Visionary NetworkHaving received your feedback on the Visionary Network, we are now developing two networks for review-a revised Visionary Network and a network that can be implemented right away that we're calling the Year One Network. These networks will be shared with the public in early 2024 for comment.
ImplementationWe plan to recommend a Year One Network to Metro's Board of Directors in 2024. With approval, we will prepare to launch the Year One Network.
This project is evaluating Metrobus service within the existing service area, which includes the District of Columbia, the Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George's, and the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington and Fairfax and cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church.
As part of the initiative, Metro also is supporting partner agencies in Prince George's County (TheBus) and the City of Fairfax (CUE) in redesigning their local bus networks. Metro also is collaborating with Montgomery County on their Ride On Reimagined Study.
Community Connections CommitteeThe Community Connections Committee (CCC) represents the diversity of our communities and a variety of perspectives. CCC members hold leadership positions in community-based organizations, businesses and business groups, groups representing people of color and people with disabilities, labor organizations, advocacy groups, and others. Members of the CCC provide insight into the communities they represent related to bus service in the region and help extend the reach of our community engagement.
The project's Technical Committee (TC) includes staff who have firsthand understanding of all components of planning and operating bus service. The TC consists of Metro staff as well as staff from other transit service providers in the region. The TC meets and provides input at key milestones in the network redesign process.
Beginnings of Better Bus
The launch of the Better Bus Network Redesign is a key recommendation of the 2020 Bus Transformation Project, which resulted in Metro's vision to make the bus the best way to travel on the region's roads. The Bus Transformation Project identified top priorities for bus improvements based on input from thousands of people through in-person events, open houses, surveys, and social media. Those recommendations included more frequent bus service, priority bus lanes, improved bus storage and maintenance facilities, and a network redesign—all part of the Better Bus plan. The Better Bus Network Redesign also is a key part of Metro's strategic plan, #YourMetro, The Way Forward, which provides a long-term strategy that directs Metro's day-to-day decision-making over the next five-plus years.