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Exclusive bus lanes face roadblocks in Palo Alto

The idea of reserving dedicated lanes for bus-rapid transit, as illustrated above, is controversial in Palo Alto, California. (Valley Transportation Authority)

Palo Alto’s strong resistance to dedicated express lanes for buses is steeped in irony. After all, this city in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley is synonymous with innovation. Gennady Sheyner reports for the Palo Alto Weekly that city officials are pushing back on an urban trend gaining traction in much of the rest of the world: bus rapid transit, or BRT.

A proposal by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority  for dedicated bus lanes has sparked “vigorous” opposition from Palo Alto officials, the article says. The lanes would boost ridership by giving buses priority. Municipal leaders worry about the consequences: clogged intersections, vehicles diverted to side streets and the removal of 256 parking spaces.

Even the transportation authority acknowledges that bus-only lanes would lengthen delays for commuters in cars. The authority has pledged to work with Palo Alto to mitigate BRT’s impact, Sheyner notes. Another concern is that 94 trees would have to be removed.

City officials appear more receptive to integrating BRT within regular traffic. That approach would displace only a few trees and parking spots, the article says. Some form of BRT is expected to be introduced in Palo Alto in September 2018.

Palo Alto Weekly

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