After more than a year of success in Durham County, the state’s first Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) program is ready to expand into Wake County next week. The N.C. Department of Transportation program allows transit buses to travel on the shoulders of designated stretches of road to bypass congested traffic when speeds fall below 35 miles per hour.
NCDOT and Triangle Transit will begin the second phase of the BOSS program on Monday, Aug. 19. This phase will allow Triangle Transit buses in Wake County to use the shoulder of I-40 West and Wade Avenue between Blue Ridge Road and the Durham Freeway in Durham County, and on I-40 East and Wade Avenue between Page Road in Durham County and Blue Ridge Road.
BOSS began as a pilot project in North Carolina in July 2012 on I-40 West from west of the Durham Freeway (Exit 279) to U.S. 15-501 (Exit 270), and on I-40 East from U.S. 15-501 to Page Road (Exit 282). From the beginning of the program until this month, Triangle Transit buses made approximately 700 trips on the shoulder without any incidents.
The benefits of BOSS include more predictable and reliable transit times, fewer missed connections for bus riders, reduced driver overtime, potential increased ridership and decreased operational costs for the bus service.
When traveling on the shoulder, buses are not allowed to go more than 15 miles per hour faster than traffic in the travel lanes, and cannot exceed 35 mph.
Only buses with specially trained drivers on specific routes are permitted to travel on the shoulders during the BOSS program. Even if traffic is moving slower than 35 mph, it is up to the bus driver to determine when and where to use the shoulder, depending on their judgment of the safety conditions.
The following Triangle Transit routes can use BOSS when traveling on designated areas of either I-40 or Wade Avenue:
• 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); and
• Shuttle 42 between the Regional Transit Center and IBM (Eastbound only on I-40).
• Route 100 – Downtown Raleigh to Raleigh Durham International Airport to the Regional Transit Center;
• Route 105 – Downtown Raleigh to the Regional Transit Center;
• Route 301 – Downtown Raleigh to Cary to the Regional Transit Center;
• CRX – Chapel Hill Express; and
• DRX – Durham-Raleigh Express.
Signs alerting motorists that buses may be using the shoulders and that it is illegal for other vehicles to follow buses onto the shoulder are being posted this week along the route of the expanded service.
The BOSS program is not limited to dealing with just rush-hour congestion. It can be activated during major traffic backups associated with weather, accidents or other incidents. However, buses operating on the shoulder must yield to all vehicles in the shoulder in cases of an accident, breakdown or other problem.
To help keep shoulders as clear as possible, unattended vehicles are quickly towed away from the shoulders, which are also kept clear of debris along the BOSS route. In addition to helping the safety of the BOSS program, this has proven beneficial to law enforcement and fire-rescue vehicles that use the shoulders in responses to emergencies.
The BOSS program is based on a similar project that has been in use in Minnesota for more than two decades. It is also used in several other states, including Virginia and Georgia.
Although the first two phases of the BOSS program in North Carolina are taking place in the Triangle, NCDOT can work with other transit systems to eventually expand the program to other busy commuter routes elsewhere in the state.
For more information on the BOSS program, contact Brad Schulz at 919.475.7434 or email@example.com. You can also visit www.triangletransit.org/bus-shoulder-system or www.ncdot.gov/nctransit/BOSS.
Coverage on BOSS (via ABC 11): http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=9207554