The ability of express bus routes to make use of myriad combinations and configurations of existing surface streets and highways makes express bus service the most adaptable of any mass transportation mode. As long as authorities having jurisdiction over streets and rights of way will cooperate and participate in the selection and implementation of express bus service, the routes and roadways used by express bus vehicles are greatly adaptable to the requirements of their service routes and rider clientele. However, the efficiency and speed at which express bus vehicles operate are subject to the limitations of the streets they traverse, and the general volume of auto and truck traffic on the street networks they share. Often subjected to the same congestion and road conditions as other traffic, express bus services can be rendered no more efficient than automobiles in delivering riders to their destinations; and may cause or contribute to localized congestion on their respective routes and cross streets.
The adaptability of express bus service permits their use in relief of other modes of transportation, such as passenger rail, in cases of disruption or blockage of services. Offering valuable and timely relief to rail services experiencing equipment failure, track damage or accidents, express bus services can relieve congestion and offer temporary alternatives to stranded passengers and rail operators alike. Exclusive express bus routes require significant infrastructure and tend to be less adaptable to realignments than other bus or shuttle services.
An LACMTA-planned bus-only lane proposed for Wilshire Boulevard between downtown Los Angeles and the City of Santa Monica was subjected to so many changes that the final $31.5 million development was limited to a 7.7-mile stretch of Wilshire in the City of Los Angeles, which itself had a one-mile exempted gap, and no lanes at all in the cities of Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. The resulting bus-only lanes start and stop at the eastern and western boundaries of Beverly Hills, and short of Santa Monica, in what are surely classic bottlenecks, such that it is difficult to envision any significant express advantages or travel along any portion of Wilshire Boulevard. MTA planners project a rush hour-travel time reduction of 12 minutes over the 7.7 miles of the express route, but have not fully assessed the impacts on cross street traffic, or Wilshire Boulevard traffic without use of the curbside lanes on either side of the boulevard.
Although the new express bus lanes appear to offer little if any congestion relief, or reduced travel time between downtown and West LA, the $31.5 million committed to the project may finally upgrade and repair the boulevard’s pavement that has been broken down and potholed as badly as any street in Los Angeles, by the very buses the MTA proposes to run along the new bus-only lanes.