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Clean Cars May Lose Express Lane Privilege in LA

Single occupant electric vehicles retained access to carpool lanes in California, while hybrid owners lost it on July 1st.
September 15, 2011, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Zero emissions vehicles, including all-electric vehicles (EVs), but not hybrids, e.g. Prius, with only one occupant retain the privilege to use California's carpool lanes if they purchased a qualifying white sticker. However, a proposal to deny them free access to two new express (also called high occupancy toll) lanes and instead require them to pay the toll just like any other single-occupancy-vehicle has upset many of them and their boosters.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority "plans to convert 25 miles of carpool lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways into toll (or express) lanes. Carpoolers and buses will be able to use the lanes for free, while solo drivers - even those in cars that could travel in regular high-occupancy-vehicle lanes without restriction - will have to pay up to $1.40 a mile during peak rush-hour traffic.

It has riled electric-car shoppers and alternative-fuel-vehicle advocates who worry that this is the first step in chipping away at a California tradition of letting solo drivers of autos with new technology and low emissions onto carpool lanes." (Note that the proposal is for high-occupancy-toll lanes as opposed to high occupancy vehicle, or carpool lanes.)

"In London, which has pioneered such "congestion pricing" efforts, drivers of clean-fuel vehicles pay nothing or deeply discounted rates to use carpool lanes, and that is driving the purchase of electric and other clean fuel vehicles in that city,aid John Boesel, chief executive of Calstart, a clean-transportation technology trade group in Pasadena.

And toll bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area also give electric and natural-gas vehicles the same discounted rates as carpools during peak hours."

Thanks to E&E Publishing - Greenwire

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Published on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 in Los Angeles Times: Environment
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