The Normal’s Rachel Scheier appears to be like into why there is not a bus-only lane on the Bay Bridge.
When you’ve ever inched throughout the Bay Bridge on an AC Transit bus at rush hour, you might need thought, “There have to be a greater method.” Why not reward public transit riders by dashing them throughout in their very own devoted lane?
If that’s the case, you aren’t the primary. In actual fact, native politicians and transit advocacy teams have been kicking across the concept of a public transit lane on the Bay Bridge for many years. The final time they critically thought-about the problem was in early 2020, when then-state Assemblymember Rob Bonta (now California’s legal professional normal) launched a invoice to do exactly that after an Oakland resident pitched the concept to him on Twitter. The laws shortly drew backing from transit officers and advocacy teams however then fizzled virtually as shortly just a few months later amid the chaos of the pandemic.
However there are different extra sensible explanation why a bus lane on the bridge stays a commuter fantasy. Briefly, native transportation officers fear that making a transit-only lane would trigger extra issues than it could clear up.
“There aren’t sufficient Bay Bridge lanes, not sufficient buses and never sufficient bus riders for a bus lane on the bridge to make sense,” mentioned John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Fee, which funds and operates the area’s six state-owned bridges.
Goodwin defined that the bridge has simply 5 lanes entering into every route, every of which might deal with at most about 1,900 autos per hour. “I’m undecided there are 1,900 buses in the whole Bay Space transit fleet!” he mentioned.
The underside line is that hundreds extra drivers—round one-fifth of bridge autos—would want to modify to taking the bus in an effort to maintain site visitors flowing easily.
Furthermore, the rationale the Bay Bridge is such a slog isn’t the bridge itself a lot because the complicated tangle of freeways that feed onto it, with site visitors coming from all instructions. On the Bay Bridge, the “pipe” via which site visitors flows narrows from 20 lanes on the toll plaza down to simply 5. Buses getting on Interstate 80 on the Powell Road on-ramp in Emeryville get caught in a site visitors bottleneck, whereas these on Interstate 580 additionally expertise gridlock for the reason that diamond lane for buses and different high-occupancy autos doesn’t begin till simply west of the MacArthur Maze.
If officers designated a bus-only lane underneath present circumstances, consultants say that it might really make all this site visitors attending to the bridge a lot worse, doubtlessly inflicting it to spill onto the streets of Oakland and different surrounding cities.
Goodwin mentioned the Metropolitan Transportation Fee is working to deal with these issues with its Bay Bridge Ahead tasks, that are targeted on extending the bus/carpool lane on I-580 again to the Broadway overcrossing and repurposing the surface lane of I-80 between the Powell Road interchange and the toll plaza to function a high-occupancy car or HOV lane. As soon as they’re on the bridge, Goodwin added, buses have a devoted off-ramp to the Salesforce Transbay Transit Middle. For eastbound journeys, additionally they have a devoted on-ramp from the Transit Middle.
However none of this has stopped public transit advocates from pushing for a bus lane. Again within the early Sixties, they really succeeded. In 1962, with congestion worsening on the bridge even with the Bay Space’s inhabitants at round half of what it’s at present, officers repurposed one of many lower-deck lanes as a devoted bus lane for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District buses going towards the conventional circulation of site visitors. It lasted solely a 12 months.
At present, crossing the Bay Bridge—particularly throughout the morning commute from the East Bay into San Francisco—is extra of a slog than ever. Hopes that a neater commute may be a silver lining of the company apocalypse that’s hit Downtown San Francisco have principally been in useless.
Despite the fact that total site visitors on the Bay Bridge is down some 10% from earlier than the pandemic, morning journey speeds between Treasure Island and the Fremont Road exit are greater than 30% slower than they had been 4 years in the past, based on congestion monitoring information.
AC Transit continues to assist the concept of a bus-only lane.
“Visitors continues to plague our roadways, regardless of remote-hybrid work or maybe due to these new work schedules, notably into San Francisco,” Robert Lyles, a spokesman for AC Transit, mentioned in an announcement. “Transit-only lanes … have improved journey occasions, ease congestion, and supply a lifeline for many who depend on our bus service.”