Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lincoln bus lanes

Santa Monica Daily Press commentator Bill Bauer (page 5 in PDF) argues that:

Local politicians, planners and misguided "enviros" must stop backing schemes that reduce street capacity. It'll be a long time before mass transit (light rail, monorail, busses and subways) serves a sizable percentage of the public. In the meantime, streets should be configured ot move traffic efficiently, safely and expediently - not impede it.

... In Santa Monica, ... instead of using parking lanes on Lincoln Boulevard to ease congestion, City Council declared them exclusive "bus and bike only" lanes for the eight hourly busses and handful of bicyclists using the street. ...

Isn't a simpler solution to Santa Monica's traffic and parking congestion to have more people come into the city without bringing their cars with them? Bus-only lanes can provide a speed incentive to ride instead of drive plus greater people-carrying capacity.

That was the recommendation of the 2002-3 Lincoln Corridor Task Force. The illustration above shows its near-term recommendations: to use the opportunity of existing parking lanes in Venice and Ocean Park for peak-period bus- and bike-only lanes, plus to underground the power lines and add landscaped medians.

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus already operates four #3 buses and another four Rapid 3 buses per direction on Lincoln during peak periods. The ones I've seen are crowded beyond their 40 seats, carrying around 400 people/hour (50/bus x 8 buses/hour), despite being stuck in slow traffic. That's some 20% of the people traveling on Lincoln.

A boulevard lane maxes out at around 750 vehicles/hour, or 900 people/lane/hour at 1.2 people per vehicle. But a new mixed-flow curb lane would carry fewer, with cars stuck behind frequently stopping buses, whereas a dedicated bus lane can easily expand capacity with more buses and/or longer ones.