Yesterday, I blogged about a critical letter I received. Let me summarize it: Dear classist reporter lady. Don’t forget that buses can be part of transit-oriented development too—-even though they “are not chic in DC and it’s mostly poor people and those of color who ride them, along with senior citizens in Ward 3.” 

The letter was concerning a story I wrote about a proposed Brightwood luxury apartment building. I reasoned that luxury minus Metro was going to be a problem. The writer said the closest bus line—-the Metro Extra 79—-was very dependable. 

To this I responded that buses were less reliable than Metro, and anyway “at no point in my reporting did a single source—the developer, Councilmember Bowser, any ANC commissioners—extoll the virtues of the MetroExtra 79 with the same zeal you did.”

Well, I heard back from the guy. Turns out we agree on something!

“Your point just reinforces my view that DC leadership has no respect for good bus service and doesn’t pay much attention to it.  They drive.  (My career has been mostly in the public transportation field and I don’t own a car.)  Since vast portions of the District are a far distance from rail stations, we’ll never have good mass transit for everyone until the bus system is brought up to par.”

About a month ago, the Post reported that Jim Graham, the new WMATA chairman, doesn’t use the Metro very often. But hey, he’s no different from many people on the board, who barely ride the trains or buses.  

I too have no car, and no plans to buy a car. And even though I walk to work, I tend to use the Metro system at least once a day to get around somewhere.  When I’m standing waiting for one of the 14th Street buses to come, and all I can see are “Not In Service” buses rolling by, I get deeply irritated.

And you know what deep irritation can produce? Change! Improvements! But it’s hard to imagine a group of Metro officials and developers having a real, genuine dialogue about transit-oriented development if none of them actually use the Metro.  All councilmembers interested in development in their wards should know which bus and train lines work and which ones are lagging. After all, the people paying rents will want to know.

Image by DCMatt, Flickr Creative Commons