Free, more frequent Dash

Free, more frequent Dash

To the editor:

Since Alexandria Transit’s Dash bus service was restructured and became free on Sep. 5, the system has become easier to use. The routes my wife and I use most now run every 15 minutes instead of every 30. This means we don’t have to consult a schedule before leaving home. Even better, it makes transfers reasonable.

Under the old route structure, a transfer between bus routes that each ran every half hour could mean a half hour wait between buses. Walking was often faster. Service through Old Town had some routes using King Street, others using Duke Street. A bus to take us home might be coming soon, but we might have to go to another street to catch it, and we had to consult the Dash Ride Guide to find out where and when the next bus was coming. With routes 30 and 31 and the Old Town “Trolley” – sorry, but I’m used to real trolleys in Boston and Philadelphia – now running along King Street in Old Town, there’s usually a bus coming soon.

Until Sep. 5, we could ride Dash for $1, the senior citizen fare, but only during off-peak times. Metrobus was, and still is, $1 at all times for seniors, though it doesn’t go everywhere that Dash does, particularly Old Town. Speaking of Metrobus, the change of route 28A to go down North Howard, North Jordan and Duke streets was a huge benefit to us; previously, the part of Foxchase where we live had buses once an hour most of the time and no service at all on Sundays. I would be happy to pay the $1 senior fare on Dash, but the free service may be helping people who need it.

One thing Dash seems to have fixed is the on-board automated announcements. Often, they used to name the stops after the bus had passed them. A friend who also depends on transit told me that wrong announcements make it hard for him to use the bus. They sure didn’t make it easier.

There’s still room for improvement. The “real time” arrival signs at bus stops still sometimes show buses as arriving “now” when the bus isn’t even in sight. The sign stops showing the bus and begins displaying the time for the next one before the bus you’re waiting for has even shown up. And on Dash buses you can see a sign suggesting that you ride Dash to check out a new coffee shop. But you might see a sign telling you, “Stay home.” Let the signs and the quality of service say, “Ride Dash.”

-Steve Dunham, Alexandria