Bus On Shoulders System
Q. What is bus on shoulders operation?
A. The Bus on Shoulders System (BOSS) operation allows authorized transit buses with trained drivers to operate on the shoulders of selected freeways at low speeds during periods of congestion in order to bypass congested traffic and maintain transit schedules. The Bus on Shoulders operation is a low-cost treatment that can provide immediate benefits to transit whenever travel is experiencing moderate to heavy degrees of congestion.
Q. Where will the Bus On Shoulders System take place?
A. The initial pilot segment will be located on I-40 in southern Durham County. On westbound I-40, the pilot will begin just west of the NC 147 interchange (exit 279) and continue to the US 15-501 interchange (exit 270). On eastbound I-40, the pilot will begin at the US 15-501 interchange (exit 270) and continue to the Page Road interchange (exit 282). The total length of the pilot is approximately 20 shoulder-miles.
To see a Google map of the BOSS pilot area click here
Q. When will buses be able to travel on the shoulder?
A. Triangle Transit buses will be permitted to travel on bus shoulders in the pilot area when traffic in the main lanes does not exceed 35 MPH. Authorized transit buses will be able to travel in the shoulder at speeds up to 35 MPH, as long the bus stays within 15 MPH of general purpose travel speeds. This means that buses can travel up to 35 MPH as long as speeds in the main lanes are between 20 MPH and 35 MPH. There are no time-of-day restrictions for Bus on Shoulders operations as long as the maximum thresholds are met. See the table below for specific speed thresholds under BOSS operations.
Q. If I have an emergency, will I still be able to use the shoulder?
A. Shoulder use for emergencies will continue to take precedence over BOSS operation. In peak periods, authorized transit buses traveling in the shoulder will have to yield to all other vehicles. Because the shoulders will have no parking signs, unattended vehicles will be rapidly towed away from shoulders in the pilot area.
Q. Will all Triangle Transit buses travel on the shoulders in the pilot section when speed thresholds are met?
A. No. Only authorized transit buses with trained operators will be permitted to travel on the shoulders during periods of congestion. When speeds in the main lanes permit shoulder travel, trained bus operators may elect to use only portions of the shoulder, or none at all, depending on their professional judgment of the conditions on the roadway.
These Triangle Transit routes will be able to take advantage of the BOSS pilot in Durham County:
- CRX - Chapel Hill Express
- Route 800 - Chapel Hill to the Regional Transit Center via The Streets at Southpoint
- Route 700 - Durham to the Regional Transit Center (Eastbound only on I-40)
- Shuttle 42 between the Regional Transit Center and IBM (Eastbound only on I-40)
Q. Will any signs be installed on I-40 or on the on-ramps to I-40 in the pilot area to alert motorists to the Bus on Shoulder System?
A. Yes. “Shoulder: Authorized Buses Only” and “No Parking — Tow Away Zone” signs will be installed on I-40 in the pilot area. “Watch for Buses on Shoulder” signs will be installed at I-40 on-ramps in the pilot area. All sign installations before the program begins. In addition, other public outreach will be conducted, including the use of selected overhead electronic message signs on I-40.
Q. How much will it cost to implement Bus on Shoulders System operations in the Research Triangle region?
A. The direct costs of implementing a pilot Bus on Shoulders System along approximately 20 shoulder-miles of I-40 is approximately $2,000/shoulder-mile, with those costs primarily for signage. This is a cost-effective improvement to enhance transit reliability and may help save transit agencies with reduced operating costs.
Q. Are other states using bus on shoulder operations? Which ones?
A. While bus on shoulder may be new to North Carolina, it has been used successfully in more than ten states. States that currently use bus on shoulder operations on one or more roadways, include the following:
- South region: FL, GA
- Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region: NJ, DE, MD, VA
- Midwest region: OH, MN, IL, KS
- West region: CA, WA
The Minneapolis-St. Paul region alone has nearly 300 shoulder-miles of bus shoulder in operation. The Minnesota program began approximately 20 years ago. The North Carolina BOSS program is modeled after the successful bus shoulders program in Minnesota.
Q. I don’t plan on using transit. How will I benefit from the creation of a regional Bus on Shoulder System?
A. Bus on Shoulders Systems are a cost-effective way to make bus travel more attractive and more efficient, which can increase transit ridership, save public transit funds and/or allow them to provide more transit service options. If more people use transit as a viable and reliable travel option that will improve the performance of our overall transportation system.
Q. Who is leading the BOSS initiative?
A. The two primary implementation partners for the BOSS initiative are NCDOT and Triangle Transit, which provides regional public transportation services for the Research Triangle area in cooperation with local transit providers.