Per Bill Bryant, SDOT’s manager of transit programs:
SDOT is designing and plans to install new pavement markings to more clearly differentiate bus lanes from regular traffic lanes in locations where violations are a problem.
Initial locations include existing bus lanes on Pacific Street approaching the Montlake Bridge, Wall and Battery streets east of Third Avenue, and N. Midvale Place (Route 44) between 45th and 46th.
Success will be evaluated based both on compliance rates and on the durability of the painted bus lane surface. Other locations are likely if the initial installations prove successful. At this point we’re focused on 24/7 bus lane locations, but will try to adapt the new approach to part time (i.e., peak-only) locations if successful.
SDOT doesn’t yet have a cost estimate, but pouring a bunch of paint over an existing bus lane shouldn’t be that expensive. I suspect that this improvement, like all sensible bus improvements, will deliver measurable improvements to speed and reliability at almost negligible cost. On Battery St in particular (where I used to walk to work every day), the existing bus lane restriction is somewhat effective, but the channelization is complex and confusing to drivers unfamiliar with the area. A swath of bright red paint would help communicate to drivers where they aren’t supposed to be.
If these lanes prove to be effective (and they’ll still need more enforcement than today, to meet their full potential), I’d like to see SDOT go to the next step: mixing red color into the asphalt of the road surface the next time the road is paved. This ensures the color will last the lifetime of the road surface, and is the way most bus lanes seem to be implemented in the places (like central London, pictured above) where they are truly ubiquitous and permanent.