What is Bus on Shoulder?
C-TRAN’s Bus on Shoulder pilot program will allow transit buses to use the shoulder of State Route 14 between Southeast 164th Avenue and Interstate 205 during periods of heavy traffic congestion. The goal is to improve transit travel times by allowing C-TRAN buses to by-pass traffic when the highway is backed up.
Isn’t that dangerous?
There are several limitations to when a bus is allowed to use the shoulder. The overall speed of traffic must be less than 35 mph, and the bus is only allowed to go up to 15 mph faster than other traffic – but only to a maximum speed of 35 mph.
What about emergency vehicles?
Priority for shoulder use is always given to emergency vehicles or stalls and breakdowns. If another vehicle is in the shoulder because of an emergency, buses are required to merge back into the regular travel lanes.
OK. Does it work?
Bus on Shoulder has been used successfully in other parts of the country for decades. In Minnesota, an expansive network of bus-only shoulders saves between five and 15 minutes per trip thanks to shoulder use, according to Minneapolis’ Metro Transit. Minnesota’s program began in 1991, and now has more than 300 miles of freeway shoulder available to buses. The concept has also been used in other states, including Washington. The Washington State Department of Transportation currently uses bus-only shoulder lanes in Bothell.
When does it start here?
Training is underway, and the Bus on Shoulder program will be fully implemented on SR 14 on October 23.
Does that mean I can drive my car on the shoulder, too?
No. Don’t do it.
Which bus routes will benefit from this?
C-TRAN routes that use this stretch of SR 14 include Route 164 (Fisher’s Landing Express), Route 65 (Parkrose Regional), and Route 41 (SR 14).
Will the highway look any different?
A little. Some parts of SR 14 will be restriped to improve safety, and several signs will be placed along the highway noting that shoulder use is for authorized transit vehicles only. Signs will also warn motorists when buses will be merging back into traffic at the end of the Bus on Shoulder corridor.
How long will this last?
The Bus on Shoulder pilot will continue for 18 months, at which point C-TRAN and WSDOT will evaluate whether to continue or expand the program.
Can buses use the shoulder on any other highways?
Not yet. An earlier feasibility study looked at I-205, but any additional Bus on Shoulder lanes would require further review and approval.