Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WMATA, Why Do You Taunt Me?

Things started off badly this year for public transit in DC. WMATA decided, unceremoniously, to eliminate the 66 bus. Suck it, WMATA, for taking away my personal $1.25 taxicab to U Street and Chinatown. You see, this bus would stop at 11th and Monroe, a block from my house, and drop me off anywhere between there and, well, somewhere downtown, but I never went farther than E street.

What was so awesome about this bus is that nobody ever rode it but me. I guess I would get on pretty much at the north end of the line, so that makes sense. Maybe one or two other "tourists," interlopers who thought that this bus was for just anybody, might get on and off again somewhere between Monroe Street and U Street. But by the time you passed U street, it would be just me and Friendly McGee the bus driver. And let me tell you, there is no cab driver in DC that can hold a candle to a DC Metrobus with one passenger on it. It's a bullet train out of hell and it's going off the rails.

Some of you poor "shared bus line" riders might be used to stopping at every block, picking up and dropping off, precious seconds wasted as these entitled "passengers" would argue with the driver about their expired bus transfers. Not me. On my personal Route 66 extended-cab, pop-top limousine, we would zoom down 11th Street, with nobody to drop off and nobody to pick up -- unless it was me. Pedestrians and motorists alike fled in fear as the juggernaut would careen, unstoppable, towards the destination of my choosing.

But alas, this is only a lament for things past, as the 66 is no more. My friend Sara, who apparently believed she was allowed to use my bus when I wasn't on it, told me she waited vainly for my former corporate limo to pick her up a few days ago. But it never came. At first I assumed it was because they had heard I was out of town, but a visit to WMATA confirmed that the bus had been eliminated.

I broke out in a cold sweat, but being strong, I was able to regain my composure and tried to determine how I would get to U Street without having to walk a mile in the cold. Or pay $9 for a cab.

Effective Dec. 28, service between Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro station and Federal Triangle will be provided by new 63 and extended 64 buses.

Curious. What is this "64" and "new 63"? I was intrigued, so I dug further. I admit, I was highly skeptical of having to ride a bus occupied by other passengers, but it beats cab fare. So I choose "Bus Maps" from the menu on WMATA's web site to learn more about these alleged other busses. Below is an excerpt from the bus route map I downloaded.

The 66 is still there! And no sign of this mysterious 63 bus. Mock me, will you? Clearly, the map has not been updated. I proceeded to the "Bus" home page, and select the picklist under "Find a Timetable." There, again, I see the 66, laughing at me. Selecting it results in a blank screen. Damn you, WMATA!

Finally, grudgingly, I choose "64" and am presented with a PDF of the route. Well, at least it still goes down 11th Street. Of course, I will now be sharing the bus with all sorts of "Petworth" and "Fort Totten" people. I bet they don't even use the same money as us in this "Petworth" place. Hrmph. Well, maybe those people will be all right. I guess I'll give it a shot.


Anonymous said...

WMATA is about as technologically advanced as the DMV.

Anonymous said...

Last night I was enjoying my usual post work cigar and cocktail. My evening extended to an hour when checking the train schedule on my phone was imperative to avoiding the expense of a taxi home. WMATA/mobile assured me that I had 11 minutes to settle my tab and make the train. I made it with three minutes to spare only to learn that the last train left a minute before I arrived. My love/hate relationship continues.

Alex said...

The 66 bus eluded me for over a year and a half. It either was nowhere to be found, or on rare occasions I'd catch sight of its tail lights receding in the distance. I caught it once and experienced the blissful ride of which you speak. I am sorry to see it go, but at the same time it is hard to believe it ever really existed.

Jamie said...

Lem: Now wait a second... DMV has a web site!

Refugee: I have to say, I am impressed. I have never checked the train schedule on my phone, but then again, I don't have internet on my phone. On the other hand, sounds like I might be better off without access to that "information."

Alex: You have experienced the joy, if only briefly. I'm not saying the 66 came often, but it was usually on schedule at my end of the line.

I wonder if the elimination of the bus had something to do with the fact that I was the only one that rode it... damn you, WMATA! I want my bus back.