With the advance in the design of the new layout for K Street in downtown DC (see recent article in The Washington Post) and the introduction a few years ago of the Circulator service, Washington is quietly making the first BRT corridor in the region. This is a good outcome of the stimulus package…much better than giving away cash for clunkers, which is helping the auto industry but has little impact on the environment (also see: here and here.)
The K Street busway will be a great addition to the transit options in the heart of the capital region. Making it a full BRT corridor is just a little step away. The dedicated median bus lanes with passing capability at intersections and stations will increase speed and reliabilit, probably the most notable problems of the current Circulator service.
The corridor already has a very good bus fleet and different branding than the rest of the Metrobus system: nice low-floor buses with emissions control technology (see a picture here) but lacks real stations. Stations with level boarding and pre-payment will reduce dwell time and will further increase commercial speeds. An area traffic control that provides buses with real priority and centralized control to assure reliability will complete the case for the first BRT corridor in the region.
I just hope the plans to change the layout of K Street advance rapidly. The best layout includes three lanes for buses, to allow passing at intersections. It also includes bike tracks. It will be interesting to see how intersections will be managed, hopefully without left turning movements, so through buses and general traffic speeds up.