Triangle Transit


Q. What is bus on shoulder operation?

A. The Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) operation allows authorized transit buses with trained drivers to operate on the shoulders of selected freeways at low speeds during periods of congestion in order to bypass congested traffic and maintain transit schedules. The Bus on Shoulder operation is a low-cost treatment that can provide immediate benefits to transit whenever travel is experiencing moderate to heavy degrees of congestion.

Q. Where will the Bus On Shoulder System take place?

A. BOSS runs along a segment of I-40 from U.S. 15-501 (Exit 270) eastward to Exit 289 the along Wade Avenue to Blue Ridge Road. Westbound, BOSS runs from Wade Avenue at Blue Ridge Road to I-40 to U.S. 15-501. The total length of BOSS is approximately 40 shoulder-miles.

To see a Google map of the BOSS pilot area (from July 2012 to March 2013) click here

Q. When will buses be able to travel on the shoulder?

A. Triangle Transit buses will be permitted to travel on bus shoulders in the pilot area when traffic in the main lanes does not exceed 35 MPH. Authorized transit buses will be able to travel in the shoulder at speeds up to 35 MPH, as long the bus stays within 15 MPH of general purpose travel speeds. This means that buses can travel up to 35 MPH as long as speeds in the main lanes are between 20 MPH and 35 MPH. There are no time-of-day restrictions for Bus on Shoulder operations as long as the maximum thresholds are met. See the table below for specific speed thresholds under BOSS operations.

Q. If I have an emergency, will I still be able to use the shoulder?

A. Shoulder use for emergencies will continue to take precedence over BOSS operation. In peak periods, authorized transit buses traveling in the shoulder will have to yield to all other vehicles. Because the shoulders will have no parking signs, unattended vehicles will be rapidly towed away.

Q. Will all Triangle Transit buses travel on the shoulders when speed thresholds are met?

A. No. Only authorized transit buses with trained operators will be permitted to travel on the shoulders during periods of congestion. When speeds in the main lanes permit shoulder travel, trained bus operators may elect to use only portions of the shoulder, or none at all, depending on their professional judgment of the conditions on the roadway. 

These Triangle Transit routes will be able to take advantage of the BOSS program 

  • CRX - Chapel Hill Express

  • DRX - Durham-Raleigh Express

  • Route 100 - Downtown Raleigh to RDU to the Regional Transit Center

  • Route 105 - Downtown Raleigh to the Regional Transit Center

  • Route 301 - Downtown Raleigh to Cary to the Regional Transit Center

  • Route 700 - Durham to the Regional Transit Center (Eastbound only on I-40)

  • Route 800 - Chapel Hill to the Regional Transit Center via The Streets at Southpoint

  • Shuttle 42 between the Regional Transit Center and IBM (Eastbound only on I-40)

Q. Will any signs be installed on I-40 or on the on-ramps to I-40 and Wade Avenue to alert motorists to the Bus on Shoulder System?

A. Yes. “Shoulder: Authorized Buses Only” and “No Parking — Tow Away Zone” signs will be installed on I-40 and Wade Avenue. “Watch for Buses on Shoulder” signs will also be installed. Other public outreach will include the use of selected overhead electronic message signs on I-40.

Q. How much will it cost to implement Bus on Shoulder System operations in the Research Triangle region?

A. The direct costs of implementing the Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) along approximately 40 shoulder-miles of I-40 is approximately $2,000/shoulder-mile, with those costs primarily for signage. This is a cost-effective improvement to enhance transit reliability and may help save transit agencies with reduced operating costs.

Q. Are other states using bus on shoulder operations? Which ones?

A. While bus on shoulder may be new to North Carolina, it has been used successfully in more than ten states. States that currently use bus on shoulder operations on one or more roadways, include the following:

  • South region: FL, GA

  • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region: NJ, DE, MD, VA

  • Midwest region: OH, MN, IL, KS

  • West region: CA, WA

The Minneapolis-St. Paul region alone has nearly 300 shoulder-miles of bus shoulder in operation since it began approximately 20 years ago. The North Carolina BOSS program is modeled after the successful bus shoulders program in Minnesota.

Q. I don’t plan on using transit. How will I benefit from a regional Bus on Shoulder System?

A. Bus on Shoulder Systems are a cost-effective way to make bus travel more attractive and more efficient, which can increase transit ridership, save public transit funds and/or allow them to provide more transit service options. If more people use transit as a viable and reliable travel option that will improve the performance of our overall transportation system.

Q. Who is leading the BOSS initiative?

A. The two primary implementation partners for the BOSS initiative are NCDOT and Triangle Transit, which provides regional public transportation services for the Research Triangle area in cooperation with local transit providers.