Q&A - When Is A Bus Not A Bus?

Q&A ImageSo yesterday around 5:00 pm, I'm heading from home to Vancouver to pick up some passengers at U.B.C. and drive them to Surrey.

Traffic was backed up on the approaches to the Lions Gate Bridge, so as is my habit when this happens, I turned into the Bus Lane when making the right turn from Capilano into Marine Drive and stayed in that lane all the way around the loop and approach to the bridge; if you have a look at a map, you'll see that there are two regular traffic lanes from North Vancouver plus a bus lane on the right; from West Vancouver there are also two regular traffic lanes plus a bus lane on the left. The two bus lanes are merged into one where they come together, and at the end of the lane the buses integrate with the other traffic on each side.

Well the West Vancouver Police are have a couple of officers flagging vehicles over who have been trying to cut in or across the bus lane, or using it illegally and they're having a busy time as there are quite a few cheaters due to the major snarl. Much to my surprise, a male officer waves me to the side of the road, directing me to park in front of his cruiser and wait (for my ticket). I said to him, "I'm a Bus!" and pointed out the PT 71946 Bus License number below the window on my driver's door. "Technically you're not", he said, then went to finish writing up a couple of others who had been pulled over previously.

So while I'm waiting, I pull out my Driver License and Vehicle Registration, plus my Passenger Transportation Licence. When he got back to talk to me and write my ticket, I pointed at the Registration, and the Body Style - 'Bus' - and then the Vehicle Use - 'Public Bus Use or Airport Bus Use or Charter Bus Use, distance operated within 160 km'. Then I handed over the Passenger Transportation License, and reiterated my assertion that I had every right to use the Bus Lane just like the Transit Buses and Tour Buses and Handy Dart Buses and Seniors' Residence Buses etc.

"Technically though, you can't", he said. "You're not carrying passengers!". And he had this triumphant sort of gleam in his eye, as they do sometimes.

"But you let through that West Vancouver Blue Bus ahead of me", I said, "and he not only didn't have passengers, he had illuminated signs front and back declaring 'Sorry - Not In Service', so by your logic he should have been ticketed".

The officer looked perturbed, then handed back my paperwork and said "There's too many vehicles pulled over and nowhere to put them, so get out of here!" And I was happy to comply.

So the question(s) of the day would be 'Is a 14-passenger Extended Wheelbase E-350 Econoline a Bus, by legal definition, or not?' And if the answer is yes, is there a particular definition of a Bus Lane that would preclude it's use by the likes of me in my big van?



The Motor Vehicle Act and the Regulations say:


1 In this Act:

"bus" means a motor vehicle designed to carry more than 10 persons;

"high occupancy vehicle lane" means a lane of a laned roadway in respect of which prescribed signs or markings indicate that the lane is reserved for the exclusive use of buses, motor vehicles that meet prescribed occupancy requirements and other prescribed motor vehicles and devices;


42.01 In this Division:

"high occupancy vehicle" means

(a) a bus, or

It does not say anything here about empty or full, just that fact that the vehicle is a bus allows the driver to use an HOV lane.

West Vancouver's Traffic and Parking Bylaw makes no mention of HOV at all.

It would not make sense to me to restrict the use of the lane to only vehicles that are full (except perhaps those that are out of service) as the bus might be on it's way to pick up a collection of passengers and move a group efficiently.

Glad that your calm, respectful, reasoned explanation carried the day!

Calm, respectful, and reasoned? Yeah, that's me!

Thanks for the affirmation. I think a person would have to be pretty stupid to drive in a Bus Lane if it was prohibited.

The HOV information is interesting; I had always presumed that minimum passenger rules would apply unless you're a motorcycle, so to speak. Not that I generally find these lanes useful in my daily grind. But being able is always a good thing, when all ahead of you is heading for gridlock.

That said, I've discovered a couple of useful 'shortcuts', in the approaches to the Alex Fraser Bridge and the Oak Street Bridge, en route from Surrey/Delta to Vancouver that will save me some time in the morning for the next while.

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