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The Bus Driver and the Car Driver Should be Friends: Sharing the Road with Buses

City Bus

I have to think there is no more thankless job than city bus driver. On a daily basis you deal with rowdy university students, cranky couples coming home from IKEA with giant bags of Oöfterflüten, visitors from away who've never been on a bus and dorks like me who just can't seem to ever put the ticket in the machine the right way even though THERE IS A GIANT ARROW ON THE TICKET. And those are just the people ON your bus.

Then you have drivers who sometimes seem to deliberately antagonize you and cyclists who are faster and harder to see than the Golden Snitch.

And I won't even mention the additional factor of the weather (especially here in Raincouver).

So, as the days get shorter and the weather gets uglier, I thought it might be good to review how cars, cyclists and buses can all safely share the road. Obviously, your provincial transportation regulations have the final say, but there are some common sense things about driving in cities with buses.

Safely Sharing the Road with Public Transit Buses

  • All those distractions I mentioned above? Remember that the bus driver is dealing with all of them, and probably more. Plus driving a 20 ton hunk of metal.

  • Respect the diamond lane. Most cities with public transit buses have implemented diamond lanes that are reserved for certain vehicles (generally buses, taxis and bicycles) during specific times of the day. 

  • Public transit buses that are signalling and displaying the "yield-to-bus" sign have the right of way when pulling out from a curb or bus stop. Do the right thing and slow down/stop for them to pull out.

  • Particularly on crowded or narrow city streets, make sure you managing your vehicle's space. You don't want to be trapped in the middle lane between a city bus on the right and other vehicles on the left. If a pedestrian or cyclist darts into that right lane, that city bus won't have much wiggle room. Allow some space.

  • Remember that like an 18-wheeler, a bus has blind spots on both sides and at the rear. Don't drive in them. Articulated buses have even bigger blind spots! Be aware!

  • When a bus is making a right-turn, the rear of the bus may swing a bit to the left. Stay behind the bus and don't try to pass it.

This oddly-mesmerizing video from BC Driving Blog shows what it's like to drive beside or near a city bus in traffic. A few key things to watch for are indicated in the video - a good reminder for how to share the road.

How are you with city driving and sharing the road with public transportation vehicles? Any other tips you'd like to share? Leave us a comment!

- Rose R.


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Lyall Davidson

Pretty good video, however, at the four intersections where the subject vehicle was first in line at the red light, it appeared to overshoot the stop lines, stopping instead at the edge of the crosswalks. While this may be due to the camera angle it's an opportunity to remind drivers that sharing the road should include stopping at the stop line and respecting the buffer zone between it and the crosswalk.

Paul Jake Castania

I think sharing the road with public transit buses can help you avoid getting accident on the road. Rather than taking somebodies lane why not share your lane. There’s a saying it’s better to give than to receive.

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