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Transit Officials Weigh Options For Designated Bus Lanes On Bay Bridge

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The conversation about putting a bus lane in both directions of the Bay Bridge continued Wednesday as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission heard a presentation on the subject.

If approved, the project would require a lot more than just re-striping lanes.

Transportation agencies from across the Bay Area agree that getting more people on public transit is key to freeing up congestion on the Bay Bridge. But those potential riders need to be encouraged to take transit in the first place.

Consistently ranked as one of the most congested corridors in the region, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge can make the morning commute practically unbearable.

"I'm assuming that if there's research on whether or not, hey, this is gonna result in less traffic problems for people on the bridge or people in the city, then why not?" said San Francisco resident John Iaconis.

"If I drove my car, it would take 2 hours versus the 1 hour of taking BART right now," said Evan Schiller of Walnut Creek. "So the idea of doing a bus on there would make sense to me, because if a lot of people could get on that, it would probably relieve some congestion on there, hopefully."

Andrew Fremier of the Bay Area Toll Authority says the backups at the approaches delay buses and carpool vehicles trying to access the HOV lanes at the toll plaza.

"The bridge itself is not the problem. That's a common issue with all of our bridges," explained Fremier. "The bridges are really not the problem; it's the approaches getting on and off. We've identified this problem for a long time and we've been focusing a lot of energy in the last couple years on some near-term improvements."

Proposed improvements include increasing ferry service and creating a dedicated bus-only lane on the West Grand Avenue viaduct as it comes into the maze.

"We think we have some really interesting ideas that -- if we can all band together and find some money -- we can start working on very quickly," said Fremier.

Commuters shouldn't expect to see bus lanes on the Bay Bridge any time soon. It might be several years if all goes according to plan.

The road map to prioritize transbay buses and shared rides calls for a $65 million investment.

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