BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 946
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 29, 2013

                               Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair
                     AB 946 (Stone) - As Amended:  April 22, 2013
          SUBJECT  :  Transit buses: Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz

           SUMMARY  :   Authorizes transit buses to utilize highway shoulders  
          in certain portions of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Authorizes the Monterey-Salinas Transit District (MSTD) and  
            the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (SMTD), with the  
            approval of the California Department of Transportation  
            (Caltrans) and the California Highway Patrol (CHP), to  
            designate highway shoulders that may be used as bus-only  
            traffic corridors during peak congestion hours (bus on  
            shoulder program).  

          2)Requires that the participating transit districts actively  
            work with Caltrans and CHP to develop guidelines that ensure  
            driver and vehicle safety and infrastructure integrity for the  
            bus on shoulder program.  

          3)Requires that the bus on shoulder program be developed with  
            transparency which includes the opportunity for public  

          4)Requires Caltrans and participating transit districts to  
            monitor of the state of repair of the highway shoulders  
            including needed repairs that may be attributable to the bus  
            on shoulder program.  

          5)Requires participating transit districts to be responsible for  
            all costs attributable to the bus on shoulder program.  

          6)Specifies that the bus on shoulder program may commence as  
            soon as guidelines are agreed to by the participating transit  
            districts, Caltrans, and CHP.  

          7)Defines a "highway" for the purposes of this bill as including  
            a "freeway."  

          8)Authorizes the operation of a transit bus on the shoulder of a  


                                                                  AB 946
                                                                  Page  2

            state highway in conjunction with the implementation of the  
            bus on shoulder program within the areas served by MSTD and  

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Creates the MSTD and the SMTD with various powers and duties  
            relative to the operation of public transit in those counties.  

          2)Generally requires vehicles to ride on the right half of the  
            roadway, including only that portion of the highway that is  
            improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicle travel.  

          3)Generally prohibits the driver of a vehicle from overtaking  
            and passing another vehicle by driving off of the paved or  
            main-traveled portion of the roadway.  

          FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  According to the author, a number of bus-on-shoulder  
          programs have been implemented throughout the country and these  
          programs have been successful in shortening commute times and  
          increasing transit ridership without increasing the number of  
          collisions.  The author notes that successful bus on shoulder  
          programs are being operated in over a dozen cities in the United  
          States and Canada, and that in California, the San Diego  
          Association of Governments (SANDAG) initiated a successful bus  
          on shoulder program in partnership with the Metropolitan Transit  
          Systems, Caltrans, and CHP in 2005.  

          According to SANDAG, the bus on shoulder program achieved in San  
          Diego positive results and that Caltrans is generally supportive  
          of bus on shoulder programs as long as they are authorized to  
          provide prior review and approval of such programs to ensure  
          that the safety, operation, and integrity of highway facilities  
          are maintained.  Specifically, Caltrans' interest in providing  
          prior approval stems primarily from concerns that such programs,  
          if not thoughtfully crafted, could introduce conflict with  
          vehicles using the shoulders for emergencies, limit access by  
          emergency vehicles, and increases conflicts between buses and  
          cars as a result of the increased speed differential between  
          buses and vehicles in adjacent lanes.  Caltrans also expressed  
          concerns that such programs can impact roadway facilities  
          including guard rails, light standards and pavement.  


                                                                  AB 946
                                                                  Page  3

          In 2006, the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP)  
          conducted a comprehensive study which examined jurisdictions  
          that allow buses to use highway shoulders.  The study provided  
          guidelines for transit operations, highway design, pavement  
          markings, and implementation.  The study concluded that bus on  
          shoulder programs have been proven successful but that success  
          has largely resulted from tailoring the programs to the  
          corridors where they will be used.  The study specifically  
          pointed out that transit, highway, and safety agencies must  
          partner together to produce a safe and effective programs.  

          Supporters of this bill point out that allowing transit buses to  
          use highway shoulders is a low-cost strategy to improve bus  
          running times and the reliability of transit systems.  They also  
          note that positive passenger perception of travel time savings  
          helps to attract patronage and that passengers who enjoy the  
          feeling of moving faster than the general speed of traffic tend  
          to continue to use public transit.  Supporters also note that  
          bus on shoulder programs all to offer benefits of relieving  
          traffic congestion and improving air quality.

          Double referred:  This bill was previously heard in the Assembly  
          Local Government Committee where it was approved 9-0.  


          Monterey-Salinas Transit District (sponsor)
          California Transit Association
          Fort Ord Reuse Authority
          Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District

          None on file

          Analysis Prepared by  :   Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916) 319-  


                                                                  AB 946
                                                                  Page  4