Hybrid Vehicles Overcrowd & Slow HOV Lanes
WASHINGTON, D.C. — High gasoline prices and a concern for the environment are boosting sales of gas-electric hybrid vehicles. But the cars have become so popular they are now slowing down commuter carpool lanes around Washington, D.C., Eric Niiler reported on National Public Radio on January 14.
In Virginia, hybrid owners get to drive in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, even if they don't meet the normal minimum of three or more people per car. "Yes it may be true I'm in my car all by myself, but I'm spewing out a lot less pollutants than the SUVs and some of the cars are," says Dick Cole of Chantilly, Va., who drives a Honda Civic hybrid to his job at the Pentagon.
But hybrids are crowding the HOV lanes in Virginia, and that has some commuters seething. "You have these (hybrid) cars in there, and the HOV lanes are actually slower than the regular lanes," says Sil Carlson, who works at the Smithsonian.
Federal transportation officials worry that congestion caused by hybrids is defeating the purpose of the HOV lanes. They want Virginia to kick them out. California was set to allow the hybrids to use HOV lanes, but that decision has been delayed. Now it may be up to Congress to resolve the issue.