I've been observing and mingling with traffic through the core since the new transit lane opened on King Street.
It occurs to me that one major cause of the feeling of "gridlock" attributed by some drivers to the bus lane - and perhaps a major catalyst for driver frustration - may be the fact that between Hughson and MacNab, many of the buses on King are merging out of the bus lane and crossing the remaining two live lanes to turn left at James or into the terminal.
May I suggest that a very easy solution would be:
Bus priority signal
A dedicated left turn signal for buses only at MacNab. Buses would get an advanced (or delayed) left turn signal allowing them to turn directly from the bus lane into the terminal, while cars and pedestrians still see red.
This would only require one extra light to be installed on an already-existing signalized intersection. The signal could be visible only to buses, and could additionally be an obscure shape (i.e. not an arrow) that bus drivers are trained to understand but motorists won't mistake for a left turn arrow for themselves.
Another transit-only signal at James, allowing buses to turn directly from their own lane. If the cycle timing with pedestrians is too complicated, all left-turning buses could be rerouted from James to MacNab, where they can utilize the transit signal to turn left, then go through the terminal and have free rein to jog across main to James. That would probably faster than negotiating the merge and turn at James itself.
If we don't recognize challenges and make tweaks accordingly through the pilot, it may fail due to improper design. If we actually want to learn from it, we need to be willing to make intelligent changes when we witness inefficiencies in our original design.
I'm also wondering if there has been any further discussion among city staff about removing the cyclist restriction in the transit lane.
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