Interstate 40 commuters should not be surprised on Monday to see the occasional Triangle Transit bus rolling past them on the freeway shoulder while cars and trucks are stuck in the latest traffic jam.
North Carolinas bus-on-shoulder pilot program gets under way today on I-40 in Durham County. It will give bus riders a new advantage over other commuters.
Whenever the traffic stops or crawls as slowly as 35mph, transit bus drivers will have the option to drive slowly on the shoulder something that remains illegal for other vehicles. Bus drivers will be allowed to drive on the shoulder no faster than 35mph, and no more than 15mph faster than I-40 traffic.
The initial program will be in effect for a 10-mile section of I-40 in both directions between U.S. 15-501 and N.C. 147 (the Durham Freeway and Triangle Expressway), and in the eastbound direction for two miles from N.C. 147 to Page Road.
Drivers on these Triangle Transit routes will have the bus-on-shoulder option:
• CRX Chapel Hill-Raleigh Express, the only route that uses this entire portion of I-40
• 800 Chapel Hill to Regional Transit Center via Southpoint
• 700 Durham to Regional Transit Center (southbound only eastbound on I-40)
• 42 Shuttle between IBM and Regional Transit Center (southbound only eastbound on I-40)
If this first bus-on-shoulder program goes well, state Department of Transportation officials say it might be extended to other busy transit routes.
Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown or twitter.com/Road_Worrier/