Whoa! It’s been a very long time since I’ve reviewed a bus line and for that I apologize, dear readers. Where did the summer go? It’s not that I’ve stopped riding buses; quite the opposite. Now that I work in Adams Morgan I faithfully ride the 90s and H1 more or less every day and have only ridden Metrorail maybe half a dozen times in the last month. But I hadn’t had the opportunity to try out a new bus in quite some time.
Luckily I had meeting in Friendship Heights and Dupont Circle last Wednesday, which gave me an excuse to take perhaps the most circuitous route possible between those two neighborhoods, the N2, N3, N4, N6 line. Let’s say, like a normal person, you decide to ride the Red Line between those two stations. The trip takes about 10 minutes. This bus, on the other hand, takes – on paper – twice as long. In reality, though, my ride was much longer.
Actually I rode two buses, the N2 from Friendship Heights to American University – at which point the bus was going so slowly that I had to hop off and take a conference call (as an aside, the main campus quad comes highly recommended as an outdoor location for a quick call!) and then hop back on the N4 in the direction of Dupont. And that’s where things got fun! I saw the H4 at the bus stop and thought it was about to pull away from the curb. So I ran. But when I got to the bus I almost stepped off because it was crammed full of about 50 American students.
How did I know they were students? Hmm…was it the ill-fitting suit jackets on guys not even shaving yet? Or the tan colored panty hose on the girls with slightly too-short sheath dresses on? Or the fact that most of them were nervously clutching manilla folders or portfolios as they juggled their iPhones and trying to hold on to the seat backs? I do believe it’s all of the above. Oh, to be young and playing dress up for mock interviews again! Not really.
In any case, the rest of the trip proceeded fairly calmly, even if more than a few of the students had no clue what to do when the back door opened and the bus was packed and people were trying to exit. One of their more experienced classmates yelled out “Step off and let the woman get out!” but that seemed to fall on deaf ears. For those uninitiated boys, I invite you to read this post I wrote a while back about how to exit a bus (and let others do so as well).
In any case, it was fun to try out a new route again, even if I have no intention of ever stepping foot on an N2 or N4 bus again. In fact, I won’t be on many WMATA buses after the end of this month because I’m moving to Chicago! Everyone is asking me, “Will there be a CTA-Venture?” I’m not sure yet, but I do know that I’m excited to have the Hyde Park Express bus located right outside my apartment. I’m going to try to squeeze in a few more rides before I leave, especially since there’s still one DC Circulator route I have yet to try. Until then, it’s back to the H1 and 90 for me…
Line: N2, N3, N4, N6 – Massachusetts Ave Line Rating (1-10): 6
Ridership: Aside from the nervous-slash-annoying gaggle of American University first years it was a mostly older crowd and everyone else seemed to be traveling solo. There were a handful of riders with rolling wire grocery carts but most people seemed to be in no particular hurry to get anywhere, passing the time with a book or Nook.
Pros: Weekday service is frequent: every 13 to 17 minutes during rush and it starts running at 5:30AM. Now not every bus goes to every stop (the N3, for example, originates around the corner from Friendship Heights but is the only one to go all the way to Federal Triangle). On the weekends when track work has Red Line travel at a crawl, taking this bus is potentially faster, point to point.
Cons: On the other hand, the bus only runs every 30 to 40 minutes on the weekends, so unless you time things just right you’ll be sitting at the bus stop for a long time. Well, except on four holidays when there’s “supplemental service” eastbound in the AM and westbound in the PM. That’s not at all confusing.
Nearby & Noteworthy: This bus goes around a lot of circles, six by my count, and it’s always enjoyable to see the ones a little farther out from the city, like Westmoreland, which I particularly liked. Down the road a ways on Observatory Circle is – wait for it – the Naval Observatory, which does offer public tours on a limited basis. And who knows? Maybe you’ll run into Joe Biden.
Latest Metro News: Did you see those sassy new 7000-series railcars? Check out the “hard mock up” below: