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COTA to Expand Bus on Shoulder Program to I-670

08/06/2015

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Beginning in September, COTA Buses Authorized to Operate in Left Shoulder
Lane During Times of Congestion
COLUMBUS, OH—This September, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) will expand its Bus on
Shoulder program to I-670 in an effort to encourage the use of COTA as a faster alternative, reduce traffic and
fully utilize the capacity of Central Ohio’s highway system.
COTA buses may use designated shoulder lanes when traffic is stopped or moving slower than 35 mph.
Beginning Monday, September 7, COTA buses will be authorized to travel along the left shoulder lane/inside
berm on I-670 between Downtown and I-270 on the east side of Columbus. Since 2006, COTA buses have
been authorized to travel in the right shoulder lane/outside berm on I-70 East between Downtown Columbus
and State Route 256.
“By utilizing shoulder lanes during traffic congestion, COTA has the ability to reduce travel times for
commuters,” said Curtis Stitt, COTA President/CEO. “We’re pleased to be able to offer this convenience to our
customers, and to promote this advantage to potential customers.”
COTA, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), and the Ohio Department of Transportation
(ODOT) partnered to identify the I-670 corridor, and install the appropriate signage to ensure safety.
“This opportunity makes more efficient use of our built highway capacity and encourages modal options during
peak traffic hours ultimately improving commute times,” states Thea Walsh, MORPC Director of Transportation
Systems and Funding. “We appreciate the partnership of COTA and ODOT to quickly implement Bus on
Shoulder service on I-670.”
ODOT is installing the necessary signs along the corridor to guide bus drivers
and caution motorists. The main signs are white with black lettering, and read
“Shoulder. Authorized Buses Only.” They will be placed every ½ mile along the
corridor, and permit the legal use of the shoulder by COTA buses only.
“BEGIN” and “END” placards will be added to the signs to designate the
shoulder lane usage area. Yellow signs with black lettering state, “Watch for
Buses on Shoulder,” and will be posted at entrance ramps to caution drivers
entering the freeway of buses using the shoulder.
“The benefit of maximizing freeway capacity by allowing buses to operate in the shoulder is great for Central
Ohioans,” said Ferzan Ahmed, ODOT District 6 Deputy Director. “This practice has been successful on I-70
and we’re excited to partner with COTA and MORPC to expand this program.”

Background
In 2006, COTA partnered with MORPC, ODOT, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Columbus Police
and the Ohio State Highway Patrol in an effort to encourage the use of public transit and to fully utilize the
capacity of the urban highway system. The Bus on Shoulder pilot project tested the feasibility of transit buses
using the shoulder of the interstate during congested times. The project was evaluated on safety, traffic
impacts, bus operator and passenger perceptions of the project, and the impact on freeway traffic flow. ODOT
concluded that the pilot was a success and recommended that the program be expanded in metropolitan areas
where appropriate.
Since the pilot, COTA buses have been authorized to use the shoulders of the I-70 East Corridor between
Downtown Columbus and State Route 256 under certain conditions. The project has helped maintain bus
schedules and improved on-time performance. In addition, COTA customers have reacted favorably to the
program.

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