State Senate passes Wieckowski's bill to improve Bus Rapid Transit

SB 998 will enhance effectiveness of bus-only lanes

August 25, 2016

Sacramento – The California State Senate approved a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) today that will improve the ability of bus rapid transit services to move riders more quickly.  Senate Bill 998 now goes to Governor Brown for his consideration.

The bill amends the vehicle code to prohibit motorists from stopping, parking, or driving in the lanes. 

“These changes will enable the districts that provide bus rapid transit services to move passengers more efficiently by ensuring the lanes are not blocked by vehicles,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.  “Bus Rapid Transit provides commuters another option for longer-distance trips, especially in urbanized areas.  By decreasing travel times, riders that rely on transit will benefit from this bill.”

To avoid having their buses stuck in traffic, some transit agencies are operating or constructing exclusive bus rapid transit lanes for longer-distance passenger trips.  The agencies include Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) locally, as well as Los Angeles County Transportation Authority, San Bernardino County’s Omnitrans, Sacramento Regional Transit District and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System throughout the state.

“The California Transit Association supports Senator Wieckowski’s bill because we believe the integrity of bus-only lanes is essential to fast, cost-efficient and reliable BRT service, and will become increasingly important as transit agencies statewide begin to implement BRT along crowded traffic corridors,” said Joshua W. Shaw, executive director of the California Transit Association.

Anthony Foxx, United States Secretary of Transportation, and other federal officials will participate in a ground-breaking ceremony for AC Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit project this Friday morning in Oakland.   

Currently, the Vehicle Code allows citations to be issued to motorists who park, stop or leave standing a vehicle alongside curb space authorized for the loading and unloading of bus passengers.  But there are currently no comparable provisions for motorists in a bus-only lane.  SB 998 would amend the code.  It does not permit the use of cameras for automated enforcement.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th Senate District, which includes southern Alameda County and northeast Santa Clara County.