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New pilot program in Clackamas County allows buses to use the shoulder of the road

It's called the Bus on Shoulder project, and the transportation director said it will trim commute times for people who use SMART system buses.

WILSONVILLE, Ore. — There's a new pilot program in Clackamas County meant to get more people taking public transportation. It will give people another option for avoiding traffic congestion in the Wilsonville area. 

It's called the Bus on Shoulder project and Dwight Brashear, the transportation director the county, said the project will give people using the South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART) buses an advantage that will cut their commute times.

Buses will be able to use segments of the shoulder along Interstate 5 and the Interstate 205 interchange between Wilsonville and Tualatin where there's heavy congestion. When the traffic drops below 35 miles per hour, buses will be able to use the shoulder of the road in designated areas. Brashear said there will be signs on the road to mark where buses can safely use the shoulder. 

The program starts Monday, Nov. 1.

Brashear said he believes the program could shave off at least 10-15 minutes off a one-way commute, depending on traffic. "That's huge, when you multiply that out across a work week," he said.

Brashear said he hopes to expand on the program in the future. There will be a demonstration at the Wilsonville Transit Center on Tuesday at noon.

C-Tran buses in Clark County started doing this a few years ago. They saw improved reliability and commute times were 40% faster during peak traffic hours. 

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