This Month

Buses on shoulders -
a smooth ride

Westbound widening of SR 52 set to begin
Meth costly for San Diego region rule
San Diego companies shine as Best Workplaces for Commuters
Funding for low income and disabled transportation services rule
New SPRINTER vehicles tested
Smart growth is a smart move
SANDAG Board Actions available online

  the rEgion

Buses on shoulders - a smooth ride

MTS BusAfter ten months in operation, the buses on shoulders demonstration project hasreceived high marks for efficiency, safety, and innovation. During this pilot period, Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Route 960 buses have traveled on freeway shoulders to bypass traffic from Interstate 805 and Nobel Drive to State Route 52 and Kearny Villa Road.

SANDAG, in partnership with MTS, Caltrans, and the California Highway Patrol, launched the novel project in an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of using freeway shoulder lanes for buses when the regular freeway lanes are congested. Making this stretch of highway available to buses during rush hours helps this transit route maintain on-time performance and provides commuters a viable travel option.

Analysis of the buses on shoulders demonstration project has revealed success on a number of levels:

Bus travel time and reliability
All of the Route 960 trips reported a 99 percent on-time performance. Nearly all buses operating along the freeway shoulder lane arrived at or before the scheduled arrival time.

SANDAG also looked at travel time savings between buses operating in the shoulder lane versus a car operating in the regular freeway travel lanes. During periods of heavy congestion, using the freeway shoulder can result in up to a five-minute faster travel time versus the automobile trip.

Driver and passenger opinions
SANDAG conducted before and after surveys of drivers and passengers to gauge the effectiveness of the project. Passengers, who were very positive about the benefits initially, were even more positive after riding on the freeway shoulder during periods of heavy congestion. Approximately 90 percent of transit passengers believe that operating on the freeway shoulder saves time, with more than 70 percent estimating a travel time savings of five minutes or more.

To date, there have been no accidents or operational issues associated with the shoulder lane operation.

Passengers believed the project would be safe before it began, and an even higher percentage (90%) feel safe now that the buses are actually operating on the freeway shoulder. While a bit more cautious than transit passengers, transit drivers are still positive overall about the safety and benefits of the demonstration project.

Based on the success of the buses on shoulders demonstration project, SANDAG and Caltrans will be looking at other corridors in the region that could benefit from this innovative way to battle congestion.

Project Manager:
Dave Schumacher, Principal Transportation Planner, (619) 699-6906