Why transit bus stops are often just past a stop signal

The in basket: Bob Thompson asks, “Why are bus stops after traffic lights along 11th

street in Bremerton instead of before the light?  Does Bremerton think it is funny to have cars behind the bus, stop in the intersection?

“Granted the driver of the car should stop before the intersection, but it still happens,” he said.

The out basket: I’ve wondered about this also, like on Burwell Street at State Street in Bremerton and on Mile Hill Drive at Retsil Road in Port Orchard. Pulling around a stopped bus sometimes is forbidden by striping or by oncoming traffic.

But it turns out there are sound reasons for it, and the state Department of Transportation includes in its Design Manual a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of what they call far side, near-side and mid-block bus stops. Far-side stops are the ones Bob objects to, on the far side of the an intersection.

John Clauson, executive director of Kitsap Transit, says, “Far-side bus stops have more advantages than not. If a bus were to stop prior to a traffic signal, passengers may be tempted to cross at the crosswalk, in front of the bus, and be unaware of vehicles coming around the bus.

“Unlike school buses, traffic does not have to stop for a transit bus.”

The state’s design manual also says far-side stops make right turns by other traffic at the intersection easier, the bus doesn’t obstruct sight distance for vehicles entering or crossing from side streets, it’s easier for the bus to get back into traffic, and buses will not obscure traffic control devices or pedestrian movements from other drivers.

It also says each bus stop location should be evaluated for circumstances that might make  near-side or mid-block stops preferable, which is why not all bus stops are far-side.

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