Eyes on the Street: Los Angeles’ First Red Bus-Only Lanes – at LAX

LAX's new red bus-only lanes - as seen from the Metro Green Line shuttle bus in late December. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
LAX's new red bus-only lanes - as seen from the Metro Green Line shuttle bus in late December. Photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Note: Metropolitan Shuttle, a leader in bus shuttle rentals, regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog Los Angeles. Unless noted in the story, Metropolitan Shuttle is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Remember way back when red painted bus-only lanes were just some experimental treatment, only good enough for places like New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Denver, Portland, Seattle, San Diego County, San Francisco, and …?  Those red bus lanes that used to be dismissed by city traffic engineers with their heads in their car-centric Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) rulebooks? SBLA editor Joe Linton is old enough to remember when this L.A. City dismissal applied to protected bike lanes, continental “zebra” crosswalks, parklets, plazas, green bike lane pavement, sharrows, open streets events crossing railroad tracks… but that’s another story.

Well, there are now red bus-only lanes in Los Angeles!

So far they are only at LAX, implemented as part of the LAX-it airport traffic retool in late October, 2019.

Soon thereafter, in December, 2019, national transportation engineers approved the red paint bus lane treatment for broader usage. Today it is no longer a cumbersome experimental treatment, but has “interim approval” in the MUTCD.

Despite some panic over bus lanes planned in Eagle Rock and the North San Fernando Valley, 2019 was a pretty good year, by city of L.A. standards, for new bus-only lanes. Downtown L.A. got the excellent Flower Street peak-hour bus lane. And LAX introduced L.A. drivers to the red paint treatment. More bus lanes are coming, probably fairly soon. At the direction of the Metro board and the L.A. City Council, Metro and the L.A. City Department of Transportation are meeting to plan bus speed improvements, which could precede or coincide with NextGen Bus Service reorganization. Metro’s latest estimates show on-the-ground bus improvements starting in December, 2020, and split into three phases, with the latter improvements coming in June and December of 2021.

LAXbuslane2Dec2019
Like the Flower Street bus lanes, enforcement is important for making bus lanes work. In December, LAX had security officers present to keep drivers out of the bus lane.

Readers – where else in Southern California would like to red paint bus lanes?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG