SamTrans has identified potential routes and is gather funding for a project that aims to alleviate congestion on Highway 101 by adding between four and seven express bus lines by 2021.

The transit agency will select those lines from a current list of 10 potential routes in San Mateo County: eight would travel along Highway 101, one on Interstate 280 and another would hop on and off Highway 101 and serve communities along the way, said SamTrans spokesman Dan Lieberman.

“We’re running the routes through various models, trying to figure out where ridership is and how the project will affect traffic,” Lieberman added.

SamTrans also intends to procure and employ only electric buses for the express routes.

Express buses typically cover longer distances with fewer stops, operate during commute times and offer services to key commuter destinations, Lieberman said.

The express bus lines are meant to coincide with the Managed Lanes Project, which is currently in the environmental review phase, according to a staff report. That project would build a new express lane in each direction on Highway 101 between Interstate 380 and Whipple Road and convert the existing carpool lanes to express lanes, which are intended to improve traffic by allowing buses, carpools, motorcycles and other clean air vehicles to travel free while charging an electronic toll for other drivers who choose to use them.

Early March, SamTrans Board of Directors approved $1,132,567 in cap-and-trade funds for the express bus project, which Lieberman said will help purchase the electric buses. SamTrans also recently applied for a $15 million grant to help fund the project, which is expected to cost a total of $36 million, according to the report. Toll revenues from managed lanes are also an expected funding source.

Lieberman said the transit agency plans to host a series of town hall meetings on the proposed routes starting next month, and that feedback will be incorporated into a comprehensive report on the project, which is slated for September.

(650) 344-5200 ex.102

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(1) comment

Reality Check

SamTrans has it backward on where to first deploy new electric buses ... the advantages of electrically powered vehicles are best realized in stop-and-go lower speed routes on city and neighborhood streets. Unlike express routes, such routes spend far more time doing the things where electric vehicles have their greatest advantage in terms of torque, pollution and noise reduction, regenerative braking, etc.: frequent braking and acceleration, idling at stops, traffic signals, etc.

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