Red Bus Lanes Easier to Install Thanks to Federal Green Light

Bus lanes covered in a red carpet of paint are gaining popularity in urban areas, but only with a very tentative kind of approval from federal regulators. Red bus lanes took a big, but not final, step toward full regulatory approval in December.

1 minute read

January 6, 2020, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Washington, D.C. Bus Lane

BeyondDC / Flickr

"Federal highway officials are giving communities from the District to San Francisco the green light to paint their roads red," reports Michael Laris.

The Federal Highway Administration had been granting special "experimental" approval to cities like San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and San Diego, where the new form of transit infrastructure is already in place.

"But last month, the agency, citing years of analysis and appeals from local jurisdictions, said it will give states the go-ahead to paint their transit lanes red if they write seeking permission and follow basic conditions, such as keeping a list of their locations," according to Laris.

The article includes reports from the ground in D.C., where transit officials trumpet the successes of red transit lanes on H and I streets NW downtown. The District Department of Transportation is also planning more red bus lanes "on the heavily traveled 16th Street NW and in all of the city’s eight wards," according to Laris.

"Federal officials left one asterisk in the process," adds Laris, "noting that the promised smoother permissions will still technically be considered 'interim approvals.' That’s because the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, the final word on paint and other standards, is still going through its years-long revision process."

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