BBB lane on Lincoln


A dedicated bus lane could be in place on Lincoln Blvd. by mid-September and local officials hope the program will spark regional interest in establishing a bus-only lane along the busy thoroughfare.

The dedicated lane will operate on weekdays only. The right lane on Lincoln will be cleared of traffic/parked cars from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. northbound and 4 – 7 p.m. southbound from Ozone to Bay Street. BBB staff said the restrictions could decrease travel times along the route by up to 8 minutes.

“Our estimate is that it will save eight minutes on average,” said Suja Lowenthal, DPD

Community & Government Engagement Manager for the Big Blue Bus. “The savings will be less on days when traffic is moving fast in the other lanes (typically early in the week) and more when it isn’t (later in the week). The savings will also diminish if we see the lane being regularly blocked by deliveries, or other activities. Opening a lane like this is a process of the community adapting the normal activities of the street around the new use.”

The new lane ends at Bay Street because buses on Lincoln make a turn at Pico Blvd. No buses travel over the freeway as part of the regular service and only one bus uses Lincoln north of the freeway (route 18) when it travels a few blocks from Montana Ave. to Santa Monica Blvd. Staff said the lack of continuous bus service along Lincoln and the vastly different traffic patterns didn’t warrant extension of the lane to the north.

“Dedicated bus lanes do the most good when they bypass severe congestion with frequent bus service,” said Lowenthal. “In that way, the bus lane has the potential to move more people than a regular travel lane, thereby making the investment a benefit to the community. As such, the City of Santa Monica did not choose to apply the dedicated lane treatment to the areas on Lincoln north of downtown.”

Staff said they hope data from the Santa Monica lane will help motivate Los Angeles officials to move more quickly on their long-awaited plans for a dedicated lane along Lincoln.

“We don’t control beyond our city limits how the road geometry works, the city of LA has for its consideration for its long range plans a bus only lane, we didn’t want to wait until they get their side done because we don’t know how long that will be,” said Lowenthal.

A dedicated bus lane received conceptual approval back in 2005 when City Hall began discussions on alterations to Lincoln Blvd. When Caltrans relinquished control of the road in 2012 the city began gearing up for resurfacing the road and started to hold community meetings. Progress proceeded in fits and starts along with the rest of the Lincoln Neighborhood Corridor Plan until February of this year when Council finally moved the plan with its capital transportation phase that includes the new lanes.

Principal Planner Peter James said the hope is the new lanes will help boost ridership.

“We do plan on collecting data to demonstrate its effectiveness in reducing congestion and increasing ridership,” he said. “That’s a focus of the Big Blue Bus to counterbalance some of the ridership loss that they have been experiencing.”

Bus ridership has decreased in recent years even as other forms of public transit, like the Expo Line, have been incredibly successful.

Lowenthal said working on projects like the new lanes are important to help increase usability and are an exciting project for BBB.

“It’s a little bit of a boost, the more we can have of those little tactics the better it is for us to manage congestion where we can,” she said.

Staff are aiming to have the lanes restriped and in use by mid-September