The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is teaming up with Johnson and Wyandotte counties to expand the area where buses can run on the shoulder of Interstate 35 in Kansas.
They are asking the Kansas Legislature to allow buses to drive on the shoulder of a 3.6-mile section of I-35 from Lamar Avenue to the Missouri state line.
If approved, buses could run on shoulders for nearly 12 miles from 95th Street in Johnson County to the state line, giving riders more reliable regional transit service connecting Kansas and Missouri.
“Authorizing the use of the shoulder will reduce travel time for bus riders,” KCATA Chief Planning Officer Chuck Ferguson told lawmakers in testimony this week. “Operators in Johnson County have demonstrated the ability to perform operations in a safe, efficient manner.”
Representatives of the KCATA testified on behalf of the bill in Topeka this week. It had no opposition.
The proposal is an outgrowth of 2010 legislation that opened highway shoulders to buses on an eight-mile segment of I-35 from 95th Street in Lenexa to Lamar Avenue in Johnson County.
Buses can now use the shoulder when interstate speeds dip below 35 mph. Buses are limited to traveling no faster than 10 mph more than the traffic on the interstate.
The program is similar to one in Minneapolis, which has more than 300 miles of highway where buses can use the shoulder.
Buses have traveled more than 13,400 miles on the shoulders of Interstate 35 since the program began in 2012.
Routes using the shoulder are the 519 Olathe Express, the 563 Shawnee Express, the 569 South Overland Park Express and the 595 Gardner-Overland Park Express.
This map shows where buses are now allowed to run on the shoulder of I-35 and where they would run if a bill is approved by the Kansas Legislature.