Steamboat Springs Colorado motorists must show buses greater deference under a bill that originated with a Steamboat Springs official and was signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter last week.
House Bill 1027 requires drivers to yield to transit buses re-entering traffic from a bus stop when the bus signals its intention and illuminates a yellow "yield" sign on the back of the bus. The law is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 4. Current law requires only vehicles entering a roadway, not those already in the roadway, to yield to buses.
"Public transit has seen increased ridership in the double digits with last year's spike in the cost of gasoline," Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, or CASTA, Executive Director Ann Rajewski said in a news release. "Ridership increases have been maintained despite lowered fuel costs. These figures point to the increasing role of transit and the public's growing dependence on it. The yield-to-bus legislation is not only one of the most economical ways to relive congestion on bus routes, but it also serves to provide increased safety for transit vehicles and Colorado drivers."
Rep. Joe Rice and Sen. Dan Gibbs sponsored the bill on behalf of CASTA. The bill was suggested by Steamboat Springs Public Works Director Philo Shelton, a CASTA board member.
Shelton said traffic studies conducted on Lincoln Avenue last year revealed that a yield-to-bus law could help relieve congestion in downtown Steamboat. Similar laws have been adopted in other states and Europe.
During periods of heavy traffic, Shelton said buses on Lincoln Avenue have difficulty re-entering traffic after pulling over to drop off and pick up passengers at stops. To maintain frequency, the city has added a bus to its main line in recent years, Shelton said.
"A lot of it has to do with the delay times," Shelton said.
At $400 each, it would cost the city nearly $10,000 to install the illuminated yield signs on all 24 Steamboat Springs Transit buses.
"We may have to phase it in with our budget issues," Shelton said.