Bay Bridge bus lane: A lot of traffic pain for little rider gain?

Photo of Bay Bridge bus lane: A lot of traffic pain for little rider gain?
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For transbay bus riders, it seems like a fantasy: A dedicated lane across the Bay Bridge to free their chariots from traffic.

For Bay Bridge drivers already enduring one of the region’s worst commutes, losing one of those five lanes seems like the stuff of nightmares.

New research from the Bay Area’s congestion management agency indicates that reserving a lane across the span for buses would make the fears of car drivers come true — but wouldn’t deliver the relief bus riders are hoping for.

It would save “less than five minutes” on morning trips into San Francisco, said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, citing a forthcoming study the agency is working on. Typically, Rentschler said, “The bridge is not the problem.”

If you really want to speed those buses up, he said, more effective plans are already in the works to streamline the gridlock to and from the bridge by expanding bus and carpool lanes on East Bay freeways.

Dedicated lanes that free buses from car traffic are one of the changes planners say the Bay Area needs to embrace if it’s going to reverse declining public transportation ridership and reduce the traffic and carbon emissions cars cause. But the idea often faces stiff resistance from car drivers who fear the change only means less space and more traffic for them.

The idea of reviving the bus-only lane that spanned the Bay Bridge for a short time decades ago seems to come up every few years. This time around it attracted interest from a raft of Bay Area mayors, legislators and transit advocates after Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta pledged to look into the concept.

view The Mercury News
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