Should buses in Bend get the green light? Should red lights be sped up when a bus is waiting to go through an intersection?

It’s just a topic of discussion now, but the idea is on the table in a paper prepared for Cascades East Transit. CET is the organization that runs the bus system in Central Oregon.

The recommendation is that CET should work with the city of Bend and the Oregon Department of Transportation to implement the system in Bend. The technology would “reduce the wait time for buses at traffic signals by holding the green” and reducing the red when a bus is detected. It could be turned on at all times or just when a bus is running late.

The system may increase the convenience and reliability of riding the bus, said Tammy Baney, the executive director of Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council, the parent organization of CET. She said it can work up to about 500 feet from a signal. It’s being considered for the major east/west and north/south corridors in Bend.

There’s no question that public safety vehicles should get priority in moving through traffic and intersections. It’s less clear for transit.

For now, for better and worse, the car is king in Bend. But transportation is going to change. Driverless cars may one day be commonplace. Bend will continue to face pressure to make riding bikes safer, particularly through busy intersections. And it is very likely as Bend grows, more people will be riding the bus — or want to.

New technologies can create unforeseen problems, though. For instance, would it conflict with giving emergency vehicles priority in getting through an intersection? Would public feedback be negative? Does the cost create enough of a benefit? Is there some other investment where the public would get more bang for its buck?

Despite those concerns, Cascades East Transit is going to need to experiment as it attempts to better serve Central Oregon. It deserves the flexibility to do that.

If you are reading this online or can, you can click on this link and give us a sense of how you feel about the idea of giving buses the green light.

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