Q: I have a question about waiting behind transit buses as they are loading/unloading passengers at a bus stop. Are vehicles allowed to wait behind them until they start moving again?
There’s been a couple of rare instances where a driver of another transit bus approaching a bus stop has expressed anger towards the passenger vehicle drivers for stopping behind an already stopped bus.
What I mean is: A bus stop was located just across from the intersection. A transit bus was stopped at the stop, to load/unload passengers. Behind the bus, there were two passenger vehicles stopped. Now, another transit bus has approached the bus stop from behind. I’ve seen the bus driver here express anger and frustration towards the drivers stopped in front of them (verbally and even honking at them), because now, the second bus had stopped in the intersection and had to wait to load/unload passengers. I can understand that bus drivers are on a tight schedule but 1) They should not have entered the intersection knowing they will block it and 2) I feel that the car drivers are allowed to stay stopped there – It is kind of like being in a traffic jam.
If there are two lanes of traffic (so the driver would be able to move over as a courtesy), are drivers still legally allowed to stay stopped behind the bus?
Generally speaking, yes cars are allowed to stop behind the bus. There is no law saying you can not do this.
In fact if it’s not safe to do a lane change then the driver of the car doesn’t have much of a choice anyway right? If the cars were allowed to be in that lane (i.e. it was a normal driving lane and not a lane that they aren’t allowed to be driving in, such as a reserved bus-only lane) then they may have no choice in the matter.
Drivers of the cars have a duty not to rear-end the bus and not to lane change unless it is safe and legal (and for obvious reasons should try to avoid blocking intersections). This only leaves one other option, unless you have that little button in your car that turns your car instantly into a helicopter. If the bus driver wants to get mad then that is too bad.
If I am driving a car I would try to leave enough room in front in case the bus stays stopped there for a while, leaving myself at least the option of doing a lane change around it later. I have seen some cars get so close they are pretty much stuck there until the bus moves again.
Perhaps the bus was honking because he thought or expected the cars could lane change (i.e. nothing was in the other lane) and he was anticipating to pull behind the first bus, while thinking that the cars also didn’t want to stay stopped behind it if they didn’t have to? I am not sure.
I find there is always a reason why people do things. and we do not necessarily know what’s in the mind or the life of the other driver. So if he honks at you it is not personal.
However, since it is probably safe to say that no one enjoys being stuck behind a stopped transit bus staring at the tail lights for 10 minutes, drivers could try to look far ahead while driving and plan lane changes around busses well before they get stuck in this situation.Of course this is not always necessarily possible especially in heavy traffic. Furthermore, if you are a kind driver you might want to consider moving if it’s safe and possible so that the bus can pull forward, just to be kind to your fellow human who is trying to manage driving a very large vehicle and being on time for expecting passengers which is probably a lot more stressful than driving a Honda Civic to work.
And you are right; blocking intersections is a problem. A lot of drivers are anticipating or expecting that there will be room on the other side without actually seeing the physical space first. It is better to wait before the intersection until you can actually see the required space for your vehicle – however big or small that may be – before going across.