Taking Bridj in D.C. Offers Great New Option, and Maybe Even Some Time Savings

Bridj

I switched up my usual commute this morning and ditched my bike for the chance to try out Bridj, a Boston-based “pop-up bus transit” startup company that launched this week in Washington D.C.

The company offers flexible shuttle routes that adapt based on the locations of who has booked a ride during a given period of time.

Bridj so far is offering limited morning service between the greater Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle areas and currently runs at 20-minute intervals. Depending on who is using Bridj in your neighborhood on a particular day, your pickup location can be relocated to optimize efficiency while making sure that you never have to walk more than 10 minutes for your stop.

I received an email from Bridj last week about their D.C. launch and downloaded the app last night to book my morning ride. The process was straightforward and didn’t cost me the normal $5 price due to the “freeindc” promotion the company is currently offering.

I booked this ride simply to test Bridj out, since I’ve been hearing its name dropped in transit circles for the past couple of years (Bridj CEO Matthew George recently spoke at a Transportation Techies event in Rosslyn, and CityLab’s Eric Jaffe has written of the microtransit movement, of which Bridj is a part alongside others like Carma, Via in New York City, and Leap Transit in San Francisco).

Bridj touts that it has cut some commute times in half through routing and bus-stop optimization. Would it do so for me?

I live in Capitol Hill and work in Rosslyn, so a shuttle from Capitol Hill to K Street NW isn’t perfect for me, but got me halfway to my destination. My Bridj had a scheduled pick up at 7:22am, just over a quarter-mile from my apartment in Capitol Hill. I walked out the door at 7:15 and arrived at my assigned pickup location less than five minutes later. As my watch turned to 7:22, I noticed a large white shuttle approaching. Sure enough, it came to a stop where I was waiting and I noticed the “BRIDJ 31” decal on the door.

I hopped on board and the driver, John, checked the boarding pass on my phone. As I settled in, John asked me how the temperature was in the cabin and let me know which network to use for free Bridj WiFi.

The ride was smooth and comfortable and I arrived at the drop-off location just under 15 minutes later – not bad at all for a cross-town morning drive. After catching the Metro, I walked into my office at 7:54. Total trip time, home to office: 39 minutes.

Normally, my bike ride from Capitol Hill to Rosslyn is about 25 minutes, with 20 minutes to shower and change. So my Bridj experience was comparable to riding my bike to work. That being said, I’ll continue to bike to work for the health, fiscal, and environmental benefits it offers.

The one small snag was I wasn’t able to use the Bridj app to determine the location of my van. The real-time location-based information popularized by Uber is something we now take for granted. I messaged the Bridj team during my ride about this glitch and received a reply literally five minutes later stating that my vehicle’s GPS wasn’t working and they were working to address the issue.

Overall, I was really pleased with my first Bridj experience. My particular commute was not drastically faster with Bridj, but I know that there are plenty of people who will benefit from the improved Capitol Hill-to-Dupont Circle connectivity it is currently offering.

I’m very eager to see where Bridj plans to expand service in the region over the next few months. North-South Arlington connectivity would be a huge benefit to the county’s residents, and the company could also help alleviate the “Blue Line Blues” that occurred due to the Silver Line decreasing Blue Line frequency. It would also be really great to see Bridj data integrate with regional transit-planning services like CarFreeNearMe.com and CarFreeAtoZ.com.

Bridj is a welcome new mobility option to the D.C. region, and, based on my early experience, you should check it out.

This article was originally published at the blog of Arlington Transportation Partners. Photo courtesy of Bridj

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