Frank Douma, Director, SLPP, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
As part of continuing efforts to make travel time via public transit competitive with travel time via single-occupant automobile, buses in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area are allowed to travel on selected freeway shoulders to bypass congested segments. While other metropolitan areas have also implemented these types of programs, the Twin Cities program was among the first and the most successful, with more miles of these "bus-only shoulder lanes" than any other metropolitan area in the United States. The State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs developed an integrated framework for analyzing transportation corridor development, which recognizes that corridor developments affect five areas: citizen preferences, governance, financing, economic effects, and design. Based on this framework, and using the completed TCRP Synthesis as a baseline for best practices, this research by SLPP researchers undertook an in-depth documentation of how and why bus-only shoulder lanes began and the reasons underlying their success in the Twin Cities. Key elements contributing to this success included an innovative culture at both the transit provider and the Department of Transportation, supported by top management; passage of a state statute authorizing the creation and use of these facilities; and creation of a dedicated staff position at the DOT to oversee the maintenance and expansion of the system.