Transit agencies will begin a three-year pilot project Tuesday that will allow South Bay Rapid buses to use select freeway shoulders during peak travel times to bypass slow traffic.
The "Bus on Shoulder" project will allow specially-trained drivers to be able to use certain freeway shoulders along Interstate 805 and State Route 94 between Downtown San Diego and National City during peak travel times to bypass slow traffic.
This project from San Diego Association of Governments, Caltrans and Metropolitan Transit System includes the San Diego region's first use of transit vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, which allows buses to communicate with ramp meters, according to SANDAG. South Bay Rapid buses are equipped with driver assistance technology, including sensors that monitor the lanes and provide audio and visual alerts to the bus drivers to help avoid potential conflicts.
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Buses will only enter freeway shoulders when travel lanes are operating under 35 mph and will travel at a maximum speed of 35 mph on the shoulders.
Commuters may see the buses driving in the shoulder from Monday to Friday, between 5 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Drivers shouldn't follow buses into the shoulder, but the shoulders will always remain available for law enforcement and emergencies.
Once the three-year demonstration period is completed, the project team will assess the project, review on-time performance data, travel speeds, technology use, enforcement issues and rider/driver feedback. Participating agencies will use this data when planning future projects that include vehicle-to-infrastructure technology.