To Build a Better Bus Lane, Just Paint It - City Lab

Trains have tracks, while buses share roads. And since trains don’t have to dodge cars, avoid potholes, or slog through rush-hour congestion, they tend to arrive more reliably than their rubber-tired counterparts, which are slow, late, and unpredictable in many U.S. cities largely (though not solely) due to other vehicles.

That’s why city leaders looking to pull commuters out of their cars and onto public transit should put the bus first and apologize later, urges a new report from UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies. The name of the game is “tactical transit lanes”—also known as dedicated bus lanes. The report serves as a how-to guide for whipping up bus-only infrastructure on the cheap, and reaping outsize benefits.

“TTLs” are a pretty recent phenomenon. John Gahbauer and Juan Matute, the UCLA transportation scholars who authored the guide, found 17 examples in cities around the U.S.—including Boston, Denver, Seattle, L.A., and San Francisco, among others—all of which were installed after 2013, and mostly after 2016. “TTL” bus lanes are distinct from bus rapid transit (BRT), which is the form that long corridors dedicated to bus travel traditionally takes. Based on interviews and surveys of dozens of city planners, they found that TTLs are often much shorter than BRT—less than a mile long, in many cases—and targeted to dense commuter corridors rather than being spread across entire regions.

They are also a lot easier to install than BRT lines, which typically require physical lane separations and fancy stations. To make a TTL, a can of paint or a stack of cones is often all that’s required to (mostly) keep cars out. And while TTLs can be permanent installations, the guide emphasizes the advantages of piloting them first, or even piloting them indefinitely, in order to diffuse the political stakes.

Click here to read the full article: