No need to stop for a transit bus with flashing red lights

The in basket: Brian Horch writes, “I was following a Kitsap Transit bus and noticed when it stopped on the side

of the road that instead of yellow lights flashing it had red lights flashing.

“If the rules are the same as for school buses this would mean I cannot pass

the bus that is stopped to pick up passengers,” he said. “I always thought you could

pass a transit bus when it pulled over for a stop.  Could it be the flashing lights should be yellow instead of red?”

The out basket: No, a motorist doesn’t have to stop for a transit vehicle loading or unloading passengers, regardless of the color of the lights that may be flashing on the bus.

Kitsap Transit’s Vehicle Maintenance Director Hayward Seymore says their various routed, worker/driver and Access buses have various combinations of lights. Access buses will have amber flashers, usually found at the top of the back of the bus, activated if the driver is operating the wheelchair lift. “If they are merely pulled over,” he said. “they can just have the red flashers on, all perfectly legal.”

He said they’d appreciate it if any driver passing a stopped transit bus do so slowly with caution,

What a motorist IS required by law to do is yield to a transit bus reentering traffic from a stop. There is a Yield sign on the rear left of all the buses, and it’s lighted and blinks on the newer ones.

Of course, red lights on a stopped school bus require approaching traffic to stop, unless there is a lane between the motorist’s lane and the one the school bus is in, and the motorist isn’t following the bus. Two-way turn lanes meet that exemption.

It’s an exemption that rarely can be used, as cautious motorists unsure of the law usually stop and keep anyone behind them from proceeding until the red flashers go off and the stop paddle on the bus is retracted.

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