1-BOSS-sign-Watch-For-BusesBus on shoulder operation is a low-cost treatment that can provide immediate benefits to transit whenever mainline travel is experiencing moderate to heavy degrees of congestion.  Bus on shoulder operation allows authorized transit buses with trained drivers to operate on the shoulders of selected freeways and other highways in order to bypass congestion and maintain transit schedules.

(View FAQs here — revised 2014)  
(Download 1-page pdf on BOSS pilot here  — revised 2012)  

Buses can only use shoulders when travel speeds are below 35 MPH in the main lanes, and buses can only travel up to 15 MPH faster than other vehicles.  In addition, bus on shoulder operation is a subservient use of the shoulder: the use of the shoulder as a breakdown lane for emergency operations continues as today, and buses must yield to everything in the shoulder.

Bus on shoulder operations were first implemented in Minnesota around 20 years ago, with nearly 300 shoulder-miles in use today.   Today, more than 10 states now use bus on shoulder, and no state has discontinued an operating bus on shoulder program for operational or safety reasons once commenced.

Minnesota has identified a number of benefits with bus on shoulder operation, including:
– Shorter and more predictable and reliable transit times
– Fewer missed transfer connections
– Increased transit ridership
– Reduced driver overtime
– Decreased operational costs

North Carolina has implemented and expanded a bus on shoulder program on portions of I-40 and Wade Avenue Extension in the Research Triangle area since July 2012.  The BOSS program will be expanded to other segments of I-40 and/or other routes over time, with the goal of creating a regional bus on shoulder system.

Click here for a list of frequently-asked questions about the Bus on Shoulder System.

Click here for information on the efforts of the I-40 Regional Partnership Bus on Shoulder System (BOSS) team for the Research Triangle region during 2011-13 for the preparation and execution of the BOSS pilot on I-40 in Durham County.

If travel speeds in main lanes are: Then transit buses on shoulder:
Bus on Shoulder Speed Guidelines for North Carolina
70 MPH, 65 MPH, 60, 55, even 35-40 MPH N/A:  Cannot use shoulder
20, 25, 30, 35 MPH Can go up to 35 MPH
15 MPH Can go up to 30 MPH
10 MPH Can go up to 25 MPH
5 MPH Can go up to 20 MPH
Stopped (0 MPH) Can go up to 15 MPH

Region States
States with active bus on shoulder programs
Northeast/Mid-Atlantic NJ, DE, VA, MD
South FL, GA, NC
Midwest MN, OH, IL, KS
West CA, WA

Primary NC BOSS program links

Links from elsewhere

For more information, you can contact Meredith McDiarmid, PE, NCDOT State Systems Operations Engineer and I-40 Regional Partnership executive, at mmcdiarmid@ncdot.gov or Pat Stephens, GoTriangle Director of Transit Operations, at pstephens@gotriangle.org.