In an effort to improve service on some of the District’s busiest north-south corridors, Metro today onlined five new 60-foot buses that will run along the S Line of 16th Street NW, which sees, on an average workday, about 20,000 passengers. Over the next year, Metro says, twenty-one of these new hybrid buses will service 14th Street NW, Georgia Avenue NW, and 16th Street NW.

Metro’s capital budget is financing each of the $970,000 buses, which are part of 295 new buses the transit agency will put into service over the next year. (The other 274 buses are standard.) The “articulated” buses, as they’re called, hold 115 people: 61 seated and 54 standing.

The new equipment arrives as the District Department of Transportation undertakes a traffic study of 16th Street NW, where waiting riders regularly watch full buses skip their stops during rush hour. Greer Gillis, deputy director of DDOT, says the study will conclude in January. DDOT is now considering “three alternatives” to improve travel, speed, and reliability along the S Line, Gillis added. One option could be allowing passengers to board Metro buses through multiple doors, in order to reduce wait-times per stop; another could be creating dedicated bus lanes, a contentious idea that’s existed for at least several years.

The new articulated buses have some benefits for bus operators (barriers that separate drivers from passengers, better lighting, and nine security cameras per bus), who have cited driver safety as one of their largest concerns. Assaults against D.C. operators jumped almost 37 percent in 2014, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

Metro has 1,552 buses total, so the new accordion-style and standard buses will make up just under 20 percent of its fleet. The buses replace old units that are at the end of their 12-year lifespan.

Photo by Andrew Giambrone