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Buses on I-5 in Snohomish County can now drive in the shoulder lane during commuter hours
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Buses will be allowed to drive on I-5 shoulder to save time, reduce traffic

Buses in Snohomish County will begin using the shoulder lane on I-5 starting Monday, Nov. 12.

Monday through Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., buses on I-5 in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace will be permitted to drive in the shoulder lane. The hope is to reduce traffic in one of America’s most congested commuter areas.

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“Snohomish County commuters endure some of the country’s worst traffic on I-5, 405 and US2,” Sound Transit Board Chair Dave Somers said in a news release.

“Allowing buses to run on the highway shoulder improves speed and reliability, allowing commuters to spend less time on the road and more time doing what’s important to them,” WSDOT Regional Transit Coordination Director Dylan Counts added.

According to KIRO 7, as many as 400,000 drivers use that stretch of freeway between Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace on weekdays.

Bus drivers in the mile-and-a-half stretch freeway will be allowed in the shoulder lane when traffic in the HOV lane is running “substantially slower” than posted speeds, at the discretion of bus drivers when they believe they can “gain a time advantage” using the shoulder instead.

Bus drivers in the shoulder lane will not be permitted to drive more than 15 miles per hour above the speed of HOV traffic, with a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour. While in the shoulder lane, transit vehicles will have their flashers on.

Signs now clearly mark the shoulder as “Authorized Transit Only,” while non-transit vehicles are still restricted from using the lane under any circumstances except emergencies.

The only other stretch of freeway that allows buses in the shoulder lane is along southbound I-405 in Bothell.

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