The WSDOT Myth about why buses go slow.

Video evidence showing why buses go slow on I-405…

It is true that in heavier traffic buses can get held up by cars.  But this illustrates that buses contribute greatly to the problem.  But one fact being hidden by WSDOT is that the carpool lane was NOT filled over capacity with HOVs.  It was carrying at most 1300 vehicles per hour.  A typical lane can carry 1500 – 1800 before it gets too full to carry the load.

The reality is other factors contributed to a slow carpool lane including friction between the lanes (people tend to drive speeds close to the speed of adjacent lanes),  cars and buses slowing down to exit the HOV lane into the GPLs, and the fact that the bus drivers are trained to keep their speed within 15 mph of the adjacent lanes.  Lane separation (double-white lines) can help reduce the friction.  Adding the direct access ramps as was planned over 10 years ago in the I-405 Master Plan would also help.  Replacing the carpools with SOVs does NOT address this problem.  This is proven by examining what is going on north of SR522.

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4 comments on “The WSDOT Myth about why buses go slow.
  1. Bill Popp, Sr says:

    Great video — bulletproof! Very good narrative description and conclusions. This sot of thing puts a cautionary cloud over WSDOT’s pronouncements.

    Did you cross the double white line to get ahead of the bus – that’s $400? Also just talked with a very savvy techie who just returned from a year in Chicago and he said the tolling operation is totally confusing and the signage and distances available for exiting to off-ramps are way too short and thus maneuvers can be dangerous. That is my take on it as well – I believe they had to issue a number of design deviations — I will make a PRR for that.

    One other little tidbit to be aware of wrt bus operations is arriving at stops early is a mortal sin for drivers. That bus (and others you have noted) may be going slower than appropriate because its schedule was established before the additional lane and tolling was implemented, when breakdown conditions were more frequent. The I-90 busses I have ridden go 60 mph, but they have a dedicated roadway for most of their trip to Seattle. There is nothing that mechanically prevents these busses from going at posted speed unless the equipment that Metro and Community Transit assigns to the I-405 corridor is on its last legs.

    One other thing to keep in mind re carpools is the actual work trip component of the pre existing HOV lane traffic is substantially smaller than anyone appreciates – likely less than 1/2. Thus forcing the 2+ carpools to the GP lanes would not result in a one for one increase in SOV’s as the majority are fam-pools and other non-work related trips that are not sensitive to HOV lane time advantage, other than that of trip time scheduling.

    I am getting back into the fray after a 2-week sabbatical of politics, relatives and friends. Will be reviewing and commenting from this point forward with a little check of the last 2 weeks action.


    William Popp, P.E. William Popp Associates Transportation Engineers/Planners 14400 Bel-Red Rd, Suite 206 Bellevue, WA 98007 425-401-1030 office

    425-652-1030 cell


  2. […] causes; namely friction between lanes, cars entering/exiting the lane, and buses which drive slow. (see video) Why aren’t you addressing these issues instead of hiding behind the lie that there were […]


  3. […] Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit and paid $300,000/year effectively said “unlike the other politicians in the room, I can say this because I am not an elected official so I don’t have to answer to taxpayers.”  He then went on to say 2 person carpools are getting in the way of operations of his buses. (already proven false in our expose‘) […]


  4. […] Buses accelerate slowly and climb hills poorly because they are under-powered as shown in this video. […]


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