Rush Hour: Bus faster than a Porsche

congested_highwayThe Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) now permits and encourages buses running on the interstate shoulders. Issuing guidance for District offices and transit agency partners, FDOT describes steps to evaluate and consider the use of interstate shoulders for operating buses.

Shoulder-running buses have been bypassing interstate traffic jams for decades in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where they also must contend with keeping the shoulders clear of snow. More recently, Miami-Dade implemented a pilot project in which the agency initiated three bus routes to travel on the shoulders of Miami Dade Expressway Authority facilities. The 3-year pilot project of buses operating on highway shoulders was deemed a success and achieved its objectives of reducing travel time, increasing on-time performance and ridership, and reducing fuel expenses as a result of shorter bus idling times.

In Tampa Bay, express buses bypassing traffic jams on the shoulders of I-275 would make a big difference to HART’s proposed AirPorter project. As reported in St Petersblog, HART’s top priority for new & discretionary funding in 2017 is a rapid bus route connecting downtown Tampa, downtown St. Petersburg, and the Carillon area of St. Petersburg to Tampa International Airport – mostly using congested I-275. As outlined by HART officials, the service would use a “premium vehicle” that would run every 15 minutes during rush hours and every half hour at other times, up until 9 p.m. on weeknights and 9:30 p.m. on weekend nights. “The AirPorter is obviously gaining a lot of traction, especially in the Legislature,” noted HART strategic planning committee chair Sandy Murman.