Houston's MTA is planning to allow drivers to pay a toll to use the High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on their freeways, and the local Sierra Club chapter is speaking out against the plan.
"'This proposal sends the wrong signal, that additional sprawl development will be supported by Metro via emphasis on one person/one vehicle transportation,' says the statement, submitted to Metro by Brandt Mannchen, chairman of the chapter's Air Quality Committee.
Metro's HOV system carries about 100,000 riders a day, the agency estimates. Opening it to some toll payers could actually reduce exhaust emissions, said spokeswoman Raequel Roberts.
'It is better to move single-occupant vehicles into unused HOV lane space than to have them idling in traffic,' she said.
Roberts provided a graph from the Houston-Galveston Area Council on which carbon monoxide emissions per mile increase dramatically at speeds less than 10 mph. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds also increase, although less sharply."