California Hybrid HOV-Lane Passes Going Fast
SACRAMENTO, CA – Only a year after the hybrid carpool-lane access program was introduced in California, officials are perhaps weeks away from capping the number of special permits for hybrid cars to drive in the state’s high-occupancy vehicle lanes, reports The Los Angeles Times. With a maximum of 75,000 permits offered, state officials indicate they had received 74,108 applications and issued 62,355 permits.State officials say the Department of Motor Vehicles is receiving about 220 applications a day for hybrid stickers. Allowing solo hybrid drivers to use the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes has upset carpoolers who say the extra cars are slowing their commutes and clogging the lanes during rush hour. A similar program in Virginia led to overcrowding of the special access lanes, reducing their effectiveness in their original task: promoting carpooling. California officials planned to have the pilot program expire in 2008, though it’s possible that the Legislature will increase the number of permits allowed, pending the results of a California Department of Transportation study on whether the hybrids are slowing traffic in the carpool lanes, the Times reported. Solo access to the carpool lane is available only to owners of hybrid cars that get at least 45 miles per gallon, a distinction that applies to just the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic and Insight, and only previously applied to dedicated battery-electric and natural gas vehicles.