1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204
PBOT is partnering with TriMet, Metro, Portland Streetcar and Portland State University (PSU) to install and experiment with red pavement markings in transit priority lanes. We are testing to see if adding red on the pavement helps increase driver understanding and compliance in transit priority lanes. PSU will help us collect before and after data and evaluate performance.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has given permission to a number of U.S. cities, including Portland, to participate in a national experiment to use red paint to signal to other road users that buses, streetcars, and trains have priority. Our application request to experiment was approved by FHWA in September 2019.
The use of red pavement markings could provide PBOT another tool in our toolbox to make transit faster and more reliable and help TriMet make transit better. Experimenting with red pavement markings was recommended in the City’s Enhanced Transit Corridors Plan, adopted by City Council in June 2018.
Red transit lanes are lanes where transit has priority and other road users are either prohibited or allowed limited access.
PBOT may experiment with red pavement markings in transit priority lanes in several locations. Transit priority lanes already exist in many of these locations and are currently indicated by other signage and markings. Red pavement markings may also be used in a few locations where PBOT is implementing new transit priority lanes with projects identified through the PBOT Central City in Motion (CCIM) Implementation Plan.
The map below displays the locations included in the FHWA experiment with red and what year installation is anticipated.
Locations included in FHWA Experiment:
In November 2019, we made our first three installations of red pavement markings at the following locations:
The first red pavement marking installation in Portland: SW Main between 1st – 2nd Ave (expected in late October).
What might the red pavement markings look like?
The exact design of red pavement markings may vary from location to location, depending upon the context and whether the lane is strictly transit only or if other drivers are allowed limited use of the lane to access local businesses, on-street parking or turn right at the next intersection. Some examples of potential use of red are illustrated below.
Why is this part of a FHWA experiment?
Use of red in transit priority lanes is considered an experimental treatment because it is not yet included in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD contains the national standards governing all traffic control devices. The MUTCD sets minimum standards, provides guidance, and ensures uniformity of traffic control devices within the United States. There is currently no official guidance or standards in the MUTCD regarding the use of red colored pavement to designate transit priority. However, agencies across the country have successfully implemented of transit priority lanes with red by participating in the FHWA Experimentations Program. Often, experimentation programs lead to formal action on ideas or proposals.
The MUTCD Experimentations Program through the FHWA allows jurisdictions, roadway authorities, and transportation agencies to experiment with new traffic control devices or different applications of existing devices that are not compliant or included in the MUTCD. Jurisdictions must apply to the program to be eligible to participate and be able to demonstration that experimental treatments improve road user safety or operations.
Other cities that are experimenting with this new tool, have helped make bus service more efficient by decreasing conflicts between buses and other road users. Some of the cities deploying red transit lanes include: Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Denver.
Seattle, WA example of red installed in a transit priority lane.
Contact Info to Learn More:
April Bertelsen | Transit Modal Coordinator
Portland Bureau of Transportation