Bus-Only Shoulders Move Transit Commuters Past Congestion

Metro Transit

Nearly 20 years ago, Metro Transit pioneered a simple way to get buses out of congestion by traveling on the shoulder instead of sitting in rush-hour congestion.
In 1992, it experimented on a few miles of freeway and liked the results: bus drivers could stay on schedule, commuters got to work or home faster and ridership increased.
After that initial success, Metro Transit teamed up with the state Department of Transportation and others to create Team Transit, a group dedicated to enhancing infrastructure to create transit advantages.
When roadways are being built or reconstructed, Team Transit makes sure that shoulders are wide enough to safely accommodate buses and the roadway is strong enough to withstand the weight of full buses. Since shoulder use is built into the project, the transit advantage is a cost-effective alternative to building new lanes.
For a time, bus-only shoulders were being added at a rate of 20 miles per year. While expansion has slowed, in 2010 there are 290 miles of bus-only shoulders across the region, ensuring fast, reliable travel times for commuters on thousands of buses each day. Transit customers save between five and 15 minutes thanks to shoulder use.
Metro Transit ensures that speed is secondary to safety. While bus drivers are authorized to use designated shoulders, they follow strict guidelines. Buses can merge onto the shoulder only when general traffic speeds are lower than 35 mph. Maximum bus speed on the shoulder is 15 mph faster than traffic.
Thanks to these measures, bus-only shoulders have been extremely effective and very safe. In 18 years of use, there has been just one crash involving injuries.
Those in other metropolitan areas have modeled the shoulder concept to make bus service more efficient. Transit providers in 10 states now use bus-only shoulders.

Bus-Only Shoulders

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