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Hybrid HOV Bill Passes Calif. Assembly

May 18, 2004

A bill proposing access to car pool lanes by solo drivers of specific hybrid-electric vehicles was approved by the California Assembly, reports the Associated Press. The Assembly voted to allow the high-mileage, low-polluting vehicles to use car-pool lanes regardless of how many riders they carry as an incentive to buyers. Most car-pool lanes require at least two riders per vehicles, at least during commute hours, but some require at least three occupants per vehicle. Pavley's bill would enable hybrids that get at least 45 mpg and meet low-emission requirements to display decals allowing use of car-pool lanes even without the required number of occupants. Currently, only battery electric vehicles (EVs) or dedicated natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are accorded this privilege. Some critics have attacked both the concept behind car-pool lanes and Pavley's bill, claiming the legislation would favor an elitist class of people who can afford expensive vehicles, while others express concerns that promoting these already popular advanced technology vehicles may undercut the growth of other alternative fuels. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, passed the Assembly 54-14 and now goes to the Senate. Passing that hurdle, it still must receive federal approval. The bill would limit the issuance of decals to 75,000 hybrids, and the DMV could also shut down the program at 50,000 if general congestion becomes a problem, or selectively discontinue the program on any particular car-pool lane if the lane became too jammed.
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