The in basket: Jenni Booth has a question about Kitsap Transit
practices along Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island.
“I see paved bus stop pull-out areas consistently on the island
along the highway,” she said. “Unfortunately, I also rarely see
them being used. “Kitsap Transit buses routinely stop in the
traffic lane, impeding traffic and creating a hazard as traffic
often pulls into the oncoming lane to pass. Many mornings and
evenings the delay of cars grows and grows behind the buses as they
do this down Highway 305.
“If there are bus pull-outs, why are they not being used as a
means to help traffic flow? I’m sure it has something to do
with difficulty merging back into traffic, but this can’t be a
viable solution for that. Is it even legal for the bus to
impede traffic like this where there are clearly marked pull-outs
for the bus?” she asked.
The out basket: This evidently is a long-standing problem. as
suggested by a Feb.11, 2004 Road Warrior column addressing it. Otto
Spieth hypothesized then, as Jenni does now, that the drivers don’t
want to have to fight their way back into the heavy traffic. I said
then that it must be scary part of their job.
John Clauson, Kitsap Transit’s service development manager then,
said staying in the roadway has more to do with not sinking into a
soft shoulder or letting passengers out in an unsafe place.
John now is transit’s executive director and had this to say
about Jenni’s complaint.
“Buses, all commercial buses, are allowed to stop on state
highways at locations clearly posted as Bus Stop locations.
Stops without signs, commonly called ‘Flag Stops,’ are not allowed
on state highways.
“Specific to SR 305, between the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal and
Hostmark Road in Poulsbo, there are 20 northbound posted KT Bus
Stops (15 with pullouts) and 17 southbound Bus Stops (11 with
pullouts). Designated pullouts must meet our criteria for
” KT bus operators should be pulling off the roadway and into
the designated pullout, allowing traffic to safely pass the bus
while passengers are boarding or alighting. For safety
reasons, Kitsap Transit requires operators to pull completely off
the roadway with room required available for customers to board and
alight. Operators are not permitted to straddle the fog
line. They must be completely to the right of the fog line
(if it is safe) or remain completely in the roadway (to the left of
the fog line) with flashers activated.
“As recent as April 2, 2014, a memo was posted reminding
operators that they are required to pull buses completely off the
SR 305 roadway if it is safe to do so.
“Your observation (in your 2004 article) was absolutely
correct. Pulling back into traffic is, indeed, ‘a scary
adventure.’ Bus operators cannot just turn on the Yield
flasher and immediately pull into traffic. With the size and
bulk, it’s a slower process and most motorists are generally
unwilling to slow down and allow a lumbering bus to pull out in
front of them. Additionally, they do not want to follow a
slow-moving bus and are unaware of the law requiring them to yield
to transit buses (RCW 46.61.220).
“Our operations manager will repost the 2014 Memo reminding all
operators to use the pullouts on SR 305. Perhaps you can
remind your many readers of the law requiring motorists to yield to
buses merging back into traffic. In addition, if your readers
do continue to see problems, please have them call us directly to
allow us to more efficiently track and investigate the issue.”