Good luck finding a seat on a Central Avenue line bus as Prince George’s Community College students and Six Flags America patrons contend for places to sit, said Seat Pleasant resident James Wright.
Wright told Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials Wednesday that it’s not where the bus goes that’s a problem, but how many people ride it.
“Overcrowding is a very, very big issue,” Wright said. “The other issue is frequency. People in this area, even though it’s suburban, they rely on the bus service more often.”
WMATA officials are evaluating the quality of the C21, C22, C26, C28 and C29 Central Avenue routes and suggesting solutions contingent on available funding.
A public meeting is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Largo-Kettering Library at 9601 Capital Lane for residents who want to give input about Central Avenue bus line service. Final suggestions for line improvements will be given in August to the WMATA board of directors, who will then decide which suggestions can be implemented and how much funding can be allotted.
Every year, WMATA picks a bus line from Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia to evaluate for any needed improvements and Central Avenue is this year’s focus, said Girum Meseret, a WMATA transportation economist.
The lines have an average of 3,000 people riding from Monday to Friday, 1,200 on Saturday and 600 on Sunday, according to WMATA.
Meseret said one suggestion to ease overcrowding is adding more buses on Saturday and more buses on evening weeknights after 6 p.m., particularly around 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. to pick up Prince George’s Community College students. The college does not provide transportation for students, according to its website.
More buses running after rush hour would help out Tajuana Alston of Capitol Heights who said she rides the bus every other day to visit a friend in Largo.
“Once an hour is crazy,” Alston said of the wait time for a bus.
Wright said residents in the Seat Pleasant area also work on the weekends and cannot afford to wait 45 minutes to an hour for a bus to come.
“If you miss the bus by one or two minutes you’re waiting 58 minutes for a bus,” Wright said.
Another issue was where people can stand to wait for the bus, Meseret said. A total of 178 stops along the lines do not have sidewalks or concrete landing pads and 280 stops don’t have posted bus schedule information, according to WMATA data. There are a total of 321 stops along the five lines. Bus stops should have a concrete landing pad or sidewalk, a bus stop sign and an information case with scheduled bus arrival times, according to WMATA Metrobus service guidelines.
Installing stop information is dependent on funding, but Meseret said it is up to Prince George’s County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation to provide the necessary sidewalks or pads for the stops. A call to the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation was not immediately answered on Thursday.
“They’re fully aware of what’s required of bus stops,” Meseret said of DPWT.
WMATA guidelines also state that stops with 50 passengers or more each day are required to have bus shelters and benches, Meseret said.
A total of four stops were identified as needing a bus shelters and benches: Central Avenue and Brightseat Road on the C21 and C22 lines; westbound Central Avenue and Enterprise Road on the C22 line; Hall Road and Pointer Ridge drive on the C22 line and Watkins Park Drive and Chesterton Road on the C26 line.