Remember the days where getting into the carpool lane meant you could go a good deal faster than all those poor schmucks, puttering along at a crawl as they tried to get to work in the non HOV lanes? Well, that really doesn’t happen anymore as the carpool lane is just as bad, if not worse, than the rest of lanes on the freeway. Now, California is looking to change that in a move that has plenty of owners of low- and zero-emission vehicles pissed off.
A diamond lane must see average speeds of at least 45 mph during peak commute times to meet federal guidelines. California’s highways were only hitting that benchmark 32% of the time as of 2016.
Lawmakers passed a measure last year that limits the amount of people that will be eligible to drive their clean-air vehicles in the carpool lane starting on January 1. According to the LA Times, this means as many as 220,000 cars will lose their HOV status.
Clean-air advocates claim the new rules punishes early adopters of electric vehicles – as drivers who got a clean-air sticker prior to 2017 will have to either buy a new vehicle or an older one whose owners have never received a sticker for the car. They also point out that, in some parts of the state, as many as 1 in 4 drivers are using the HOV lane illegally – with no passengers, a clean-air sticker, or even a car that is a clean-air vehicle.
Other solutions to California’s HOV lane issue include increasing vehicle occupancy requirements to three or more people, putting more or higher tolls on freeways, or adding more carpool lanes – but CalTrans says those fixes are either too expensive or politically unpopular.
Read more here.