Buses in HOV lanes without any passengers

The in basket: Dr. Larry Iversen of Bremerton e-mailed to say “A couple of times I have noticed buses with ‘out of service’ signs using the I-5 HOV lanes, even though there is just the driver on board.

“Last Wednesday, I noticed three buses in a convoy using the I-5 HOV lane with ‘garage’ indicated on their signs, each with only a driver on board. I believe these were always Metro buses.

“What are the Department of Transportation, WSP, and Metro policies concerning buses with no passengers using HOV lanes on our highways?”


The out basket: Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the Bremerton State Patrol office says that use of the HOV lanes by such buses is legal and specifically provided for in the HOV law. Among those allowed to use HOV lanes, says the law, are public transportation vehicles, and (many) private transportation provider vehicles if the vehicle has the capacity to carry eight or more passengers, regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle, and if such use does not interfere with the efficiency, reliability, and safety of public transportation operations.”

Linda Thielke, in public affairs at Metro, says their drivers use the HOV lanes on “dead-head’ runs back to the bus barn, to stay on schedule. Their buses often are on the road 20 out of every 24 hours, she said, and even if the driver has completed his or her shift, he or she must get the bus back for another driver to take over.

John Clauson, longtime Kitsap Transit official who has just been named to head the organization, said his agency doesn’t have a policy addressing this. “We leave it to the driver’s discretion, knowing that it islegal.”

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