Buses Driving On Shoulders Of Three Highways In Plan To Ease Traffic
Written by Charlotte Libov on March 29, 2007
By Charlotte Libov
Buses on three Miami-Dade Transit routes are taking to shoulder lanes on busy expressways in an effort to ease rush-hour congestion and encourage commuters to use mass transportation.
The program will go countywide if the initial rollout that began last Thursday is successful, a county transit spokesman said.
"These are mini-buses that go from way out west," said transit spokesman Manuel Palmeiro. They have limited stops and go to transit stations. But if it goes well, we will expand the program."
The project was kicked off on State Roads 878, the Snapper Creek Expressway, and 874, the Don Shula Expressway. Buses normally travel on the main roadway, Mr. Palmeiro said, until rush-hour traffic dips below 25 mph, when they take to the shoulder and travel 35 mph.
"If people see the buses zipping by, maybe they’ll think, "We should try this,’" Mr. Palmeiro said. "Every full bus can take 30 cars off the road."
Buses move on and off the shoulder as necessary to drive across ramps and avoid vehicles and as traffic conditions warrant, Mr. Palmeiro said.
He said the 11-foot width of the shoulders is sufficient to accommodate the buses. Motorist will need to be alert for the buses returning to the roadway as highway exits approach, Mr. Palmeiro said, and noted Florida law requires motorists to slow to allow buses back on a roadway.
The program was inspired by a successful program that was launched in Minneapolis 12 years ago in which 400 buses run daily on 200 miles of shoulder lanes, transit officials said.
Miami-Dade officials began planning the program about 1½ years ago. Transit officials got the approval of the Miami-Dade Highway Authority, Florida Turnpike Enterprise, the Florida Highway Patrol and the Metropolitan Planning Organization and gave special training to drivers.
The Kendall, Killian and Sunset KATS bus routes are involved in the pilot program. If it’s successful, the project next would be expanded to routes on State Roads 826, the Palmetto Expressway, and 836, the Dolphin Expressway; the Florida’s Turnpike Homestead Extension; and Interstate 95.
The pilot program follows a study by the Metropolitan Planning Organization of high-volume arterials and freeways.