Wieckowski Bus Rapid Transit bill signed by Governor Brown

SB 998 will help AC Transit, VTA with bus-only lanes

September 27, 2016

Sacramento – Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) today that will improve the ability of bus rapid transit (BRT) services to move riders more quickly through heavily travelled corridors.

SB 998 amends the vehicle code to authorize transit agencies to cite motorists who are inappropriately using the bus-only lanes and obstructing the operation of BRT service. 

“I’m pleased the Governor has signed this bill because it’s important that commuters have many transportation options available and SB 998 will make BRT service more viable for passengers who are travelling longer distances,” said Senator Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.  “By decreasing travel times, riders can reach their destinations quicker.”

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.

“SB 998 will give public transit agencies the authority they need over bus-only lanes to help decrease travel times and make their service more competitive with the automobile for longer-distance trips in congested areas,” said Cindy Chavez, chairperson of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.  “We thank the Governor and Senator Wieckowski for bringing about this important change to help transit riders.”

Joshua W. Shaw, executive director of the California Transit Association, said bus only lanes will become increasingly important as transit agencies statewide begin to implement BRT service along crowded traffic corridors. 

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.