Bus riding on shoulders

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, place - north america, policy - congestion


Bus on shoulders, congestion management, public transit


Bus on shoulder (BOS) operations have been ongoing in several locations across the United States and abroad. Public transit buses in the designated highway and arterial shoulders are generally allowed to travel up to 15 mph faster than traffic in the general lanes, but no more than 35 mph. These operations are typically undertaken to give public transit riders a faster and more reliable traveling experience when highway and arterial general traffic lanes are congested. The research team reviewed the literature on safety and operational aspects of shoulder use and the ways in which shoulder use has been incorporated as a way to manage congestion in several regions. They also interviewed primary stakeholders, who might be involved in planning and operating a BOS system in Northeastern Illinois and analyzed their comments. They found that highway shoulders have been used for a variety of purposes in many regions over time with proper precautions and appropriate authorization, including operating buses on them to bypass congestion in the general traffic lanes. In this study, the investigators show that BOS operations have been undertaken as part of congestion management strategies in many regions. Although Illinois stakeholders have raised many concerns, it appears that BOS operations are feasible for Northeastern Illinois, although much will depend on the selection of the right highway segments, bus driver education and training, awareness among motorists, and various other strategies that should be addressed. Cost and legal factors governing BOS operations should also be addressed. BOS operations may effectively work in Northeastern Illinois, if implemented as part of an overall congestion management strategy and after being studied as a part of a year-long demonstration project to identify the best ways to operate.