Tag Archives: buses

Worker/driver program is unique in the nation

The in basket: When I recently joined Bremerton Public Works execs on a tour of city projects, Managing Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson told me something that came as quite a surprise.

He said Kitsap Transit’s worker/driver bus program, in which civilians, mostly working for the Navy, drive transit-provided motor coaches to and from work, picking up and dropping off co-workers en route, is the only thing of its kind in the whole nation.

Given its success here, that was hard to believe.

The out basket: And yet, it appears to be true. Well, nearly true. Mason Transit has four such routes, but they serve the same work sites.

John Clauson, Kitsap Transit’s executive director, says there were only eight or 10 routes in the program they inherited in 1983 from the private bus company that was the forerunner to Kitsap Transit. Today there are 30 routes, plus those Mason Transit runs.

“As far as I know, we are the only system in the U.S. that has this type of program and I know that we are the only one in the state, along with Mason Transit now, that have this type of unique operation,” John said.

I Googled and Binged “workers/driver bus programs” and found no others

Gunnar made his remark as we watched a procession of worker/driver buses make their way north on Washington Avenue at shipyard quitting time. Public Works director Chal Martin was there, too, and observed that city plans to reduce

Washington to one lane in each direction in 2015 would never work if the buses weren’t taking dozens if not hundreds of single-car drivers off that street by providing them rides to and from work.

Yield signs on transit buses aren’t kidding

The in basket: As I noticed a flashing Yield sign on the back of a Kitsap Transit bus, it occurred to me that the requirement that drivers yield to buses pulling into traffic after discharging or picking up passengers would probably come as a surprise to most drivers.

The Yield signs on buses until now have not be lighted and most still aren’t.

I asked State Trooper Russ Winger if a person could actually be cited for failing to yield to a bus when no collision resulted from the action.

The out basket: Yes, Russ replied, “as with any moving infraction that can be issued for an actual collision, ‘almost’ causing a collision or causing another vehicle that has the right of way to take evasive action to avoid that collision is grounds for issuing a citation.”

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.”