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Regular Bus Runs on Freeways

February 22, 1987

Is the solution to the area's transit problems staring us in the face even as we drive to work?

Why not run buses on the freeways? Not in special lanes, as freeway flyers, accessible only at end points, but regular buses, traveling in the right-hand lane and stopping at every major cross street.

Note the principal advantages of such a bus system. The freeways are already built, they go (almost) everywhere, and feeder lines are already in place on most cross streets.

What would be required to make such a system work? (1) Pullout areas for bus stops, (2) walkways, benches and shelters for bus patrons, and (3) signs to direct patrons to the freeway stops. The construction required is minor league, compared to subways and rail lines, and would provide some local employment in every area of the basin.

For rapid transportation--and this is a requirement if we want people to leave their cars at home--one more element is needed; travel in the right lane during rush hours should be restricted to entry and exit and "high occupancy vehicles," namely buses, vans, and possibly car pools. This is not an outrageous idea; exactly such a system is used in our nation's capital. And since each bus displaces many cars (25 or more), the net effect of buses in the right lane may be faster traffic in the remaining lanes.

What are the other problems? Some coordination between the RTD and Caltrans is obviously required.

What about areas not served by freeways? The Wilshire Corridor already has frequent, if not rapid, bus service, and may some day be served by Metro Rail. Let us turn our attention to the areas not so well served by public transportation .

This is just an outline. Has such a system ever been given serious study? On its apparent merits, does it not deserve careful examination? Metro Rail is admittedly more glamorous (and also frightfully expensive) and is certainly years (decades?) away from serving all of the basin.

A freeway bus system may be a short-term, or even permanent, solution to the vast problem of public transportation.

ROBERT J. MERCER

Los Angeles

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