By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have extended the part-time Transit-Only Lane Demonstration Project along I-805 and SR 94 between National City and downtown San Diego.
Starting November 14, South Bay Rapid 225 will begin using the dedicated part-time Transit Only Lane near the center median on westbound State Route 94, from 30th street to downtown San Diego. Motorists may also notice South Bay Rapid 225 buses entering the part-time Transit Only Lanes or shoulders along the northbound I-805, from E Plaza Blvd to Imperial Ave.
The part-time Transit-Only Lane Demonstration Project, also known as Bus on Shoulder, allows South Bay Rapid 225 buses to run on select freeway shoulders during peak travel times, helping bus drivers to bypass congestion. Route Rapid 225 buses are operated by specially trained drivers and equipped with driver assistance technology, including sensors, that monitor the lanes and provide audio and visual alerts to help operators avoid potential conflicts.
With safety as a top priority, buses will only enter the part-time Transit-Only Lanes when the freeway is operating under 35 miles per hour and will travel at a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour on the shoulders. “Bus Merging” dynamic signs are placed at the ramp stop lights to inform drivers of any additional delay needed for the bus to pass safely. Part-time Transit-Only Lane informational signage will be uncovered along the additional six miles being added to this corridor this week. The informational highway signage will remain throughout the pilot.
Motorists are advised to stay alert, never follow buses into the shoulder, and observe highway signage. The shoulders will always be accessible to law enforcement, emergency response, and incident management vehicles. Motorists who drive on shoulders will be subject to violation fees at a minimum of $401.
While the concept of a transit bus traveling on a highway shoulder has been implemented in 10 states nationwide, San Diego is the first in the nation to use transit vehicle-to-infrastructure technology that allows buses to communicate with freeway ramp meters to provide a priority service. The technology will also collect data to analyze the effectiveness and safety of prioritizing existing shoulder infrastructure to make transit more reliable.
Once the pilot is completed, the project team will assess and review on-time performance data, travel speeds, technology use, enforcement issues, and rider/driver feedback. Participating project agencies will use this data when planning future projects that include vehicle-to-infrastructure technology.