DOT starts testing bus driving on highway shoulders next week

Posted July 12, 2012 7:52 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Department of Transportation will launch a pilot program next week aimed at improving traffic and saving the state millions of dollars.

The Bus on Shoulder System, or BOSS, will allow specially trained bus drivers with Triangle Transit to drive on the shoulder of Interstate 40 in parts of Durham County to bypass traffic when it slows below 35 mph.

If successful, the program could eventually be expanded to other parts of the Triangle. It is already in use in other cities across the United States, according to Bryan Gunter, with the Department of Transportation.

Allowing buses to bypass traffic is cheaper than adding lanes, Gunter said.

"We already have wide enough shoulders that buses can travel on," he said.

Triangle Transit drivers have been practicing using the shoulders safely. Buses will be able to travel at a maximum speed of 35 mph.

They won't be able to use the shoulders when there's a disabled vehicle or debris, and emergency vehicles always have precedent over buses.